As enrollments soar, Alamanda’s most urgent problem is a squeeze on open space. The principal’s favored solution, recently submitted to the state government for funding, is to build a three-storey building for secondary students.
The vertical school model is generally used for inner-urban schools, but Ms Jobson said there was simply no more room for single-level classrooms.
“We really can not just keep putting up portables on the site. The little bit of land that’s there for the kids to play on is being taken up. ”
Alamanda’s growing pains are an extreme example of a common problem among schools in Wyndham City, one of Melbourne’s most heavily populated urban growth corridors.
The region has by far the highest number of enrolled students per government school of any municipality in Victoria, with an average of 983 students at its 37 government schools.
The average number of students per school across greater Melbourne is 554.
Analysis by Wyndham City found school enrollments leapt ahead of forecasts because planners failed to foresee an increase in housing density.
In budgeting for new schools, state government planners assumed Wyndham would maintain a housing density level of 12 to 15 dwellings per hectare, but recent developments have added 18 to 20 homes per hectare, a council report found.
The report predicts Wyndham will be six schools short of what the municipality needs by 2031, with a need for three extra primary schools, two secondary schools and a special school.
Wyndham mayor Peter Maynard said a number of new schools had opened in Wyndham in recent years, with more to come. He said the City was grateful for this, but its report clearly demonstrated that more investment and a longer-term plan was needed to overcome the forecast shortage of schools.
“Our classrooms are already overcrowded and bursting at the seams,” Cr Maynard said.
Point Cook single mother of three Eliza Berry said there was a desperate need for more schools in Wyndham.
The 39-year-old works full-time and has her two eldest children enrolled at separate schools, not by choice, but because her local school, Saltwater P-9 College, had not built its secondary school facilities when her daughter Amelie started year 7 last year. Instead, she enrolled here at Alamanda.
Ms Berry said she believes Wyndham has been left behind, with an influx of new residents but not enough infrastructure or schools to support them.
Our classrooms are already overcrowded and bursting at the seams
Wyndham City Mayor Peter Maynard
“Even if they start building new schools now it feels too late,” she said.
Ms Berry’s youngest child, Edward, will start prep at Saltwater this year when the college accepts its first intake of year 7 students. She hoped all her kids could go to the same school.
“I would love it if my local school could open schooling up to year 9,” Ms Berry said.
“It definitely would have alleviated a lot of the logistical issues.”
An Andrews government spokesperson said the government had opened eight schools in Wyndham since 2018 and planned to build five more.
“We’ve also invested $ 74.3 million to upgrade seven existing schools in Wyndham to make sure everyone in Melbourne’s outer-west has access to great local schools, close to home,” the spokesperson said, adding that the need for new schools was reviewed every year using detailed demographic modeling.
The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.