There is a 'building boom' occurring in Ballarat (not as outrageous as what is occurring in Sydney and Melbourne but just as stunning in its audacity!) tens of millions of dollars have been spent in a manic desire to top market share in Ballarat and the western district ( hence St Pats new boarding facility)
It should be noted that the money that schools like Ballarat College and Phoenix (ex Sebastapol SC) is basically rejuvenating or replacing decrepit buildings not touched since they were built in the 60s-70s. Their new facilities are very modest compared with infinity pools, sports pavilions, performing arts centres etc etc etc.
Ballarat High received funds just before the last election but nowhere near enough to do what really needs to be done but enough to replace a Menzie's era science block and open up and modernise a 1970s building. (Other high schools in Victoria with a similar design have demolished these buildings not remodelled them)
The imbalance in resources and facilities does not go unnoticed in Ballarat. If our state secondary schools are not to wither away or be seen as the second or third option we need to promote the fantastic things that go on INSIDE our schools but also ensure we have 21st century learning facilities that we need to 'level the playing field'.
Splurging on rowing tanks, pilates studios and sky decks, Melbourne's private schools are outspending their public counterparts four to one.
Some top private schools have spent up to $70 million on capital projects over the past few years as part of a facilities "arms race" to lure students.
The state's biggest spender, Carey Baptist Grammar School, shelled out about $11.4 million in 2014 on a new "learning and innovation" centre at its Kew campus.
The $23 million building, designed by top architects Hayball, features an "audiovisual Imaginarium" with 3D technology and a "United Nations Room" with a sky deck with sweeping views the city.
Principal Philip Grutzner said the centre had replaced 1950s classrooms that were "as bad as some of the worst facilities I've seen in many independent and state schools".
He said all Victorian students deserved quality teachers and "welcoming, supportive and innovative" facilities had a major impact on morale and learning.
An analysis of the most recent My School data by the Centre for Policy Development's Bernie Shepherd and Chris Bonnor revealed the capital expenditure per Victorian private school student was $2011 in 2014. This is compared to $469 per state school student.
Mr Shepherd said government funding for capital works should not be provided to well-off private schools.
"Where there are large amounts being spent already, more money does not make much difference to educational outcomes," he said.
"The evidence shows that funding disadvantaged schools and students leads to greater educational outcomes."
The analysis showed the federal government spent $141 on capital expenditure per private school student, compared to $238 for public school students. The state government also spent $184 per state school student.
It follows a recent analysis showing the average government funding of some of Victoria's most elite private schools increased eight times times the rate of the neediest public schools.
The state's second biggest spender was Presbyterian Ladies' College, which forked out $10.7 million on capital projects in 2014, while planning a $30 million auditorium with a "black box" studio for drama classes and performances.
The spending was not confined to 2014.
Ballarat Clarendon College recently demolished its swimming pool and is now building an indoor motorised rowing tank, which will create its own currents and simulate the outdoors.
It's part of the school's new fitness centre, which will include an infinity pool and spin class room.
And Melbourne Girls Grammar is building a $22 million centre with "exceptional pool and gymnasium facilities", a yoga and pilates studio, basketball/volleyball/netball courts and a cafe. It hopes to generate $6 million through fundraising, and is calling on the community to pledge gifts of $25,000 or more to become founding members of their "200 Club".
A construction blitz is also taking place at Scotch College, which is building a $32 million science centre with a rooftop teaching area, atrium, wind turbines and "sweeping views of the river landscape".
More than 1100 members of the "Scotch family" have committed $20 million to the project, the school said on its website.
Some state schools were not too far behind; Bendigo Senior Secondary College spent $7.6 million, Phoenix P-12 Community College spent $7.2 million and Wyndham Central Secondary College spent $7 million on capital works.
Independent Schools Victoria chief executive Michelle Green said parents and donors raised almost all the funds for capital projects at independent schools.
"Nationally, parents and donors on average contributed about 86 per cent of the cost of capital projects, such as buildings, at independent schools in 2014," she said.
The remaining funds came from federal and state government grants, she said.
"In Victoria, independent schools receive a relatively small amount of government funding for capital works," Ms Green said.
But surveys conducted by the organisation have found parents are not that fussed about a school's facilities and resources.
They ranked the development of sound values and beliefs, a school's reputation and its ability to meet the needs of their child as higher priorities. They ranked a school's facilities ninth in the surveys.
Sydney University's associate professor Helen Proctor said private schools receive funding through high fees, government funding and "sophisticated fundraising offices".
She said because Victorian schools were not allowed to make profit, they splurged on new buildings, creating an "arms race".
"These facilities, I think, are partly the language of competition between those schools," she said.
By Henrietta Cook and Timina Jacks
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