School Development

The currency of any school is dependent on the work that is done to maintain and build upon current successes and to actively plan for improvement. St Kevin’s is no different to any other school in this regard. While works over the past few years have established refurbished classes and the BER enabled new works, we also recognise that there is more work to be done. To this end, we have been active in preparing and planning for the future of St Kevin’s. At the end of 2012 a capital works plan commenced. This is a long process  that we entered and once in the system, we have no control over the timing or conditions. Without access to Capital Grants, the school would have to finance building works themselves. This is not something that St Kevin’s or many other schools can hope to finance without assistance.

The school invites all stake holders to read the following information and asks for feedback.

Capital Grants Process Background

Capital Grants are available to all schools via the Australian Government. For Catholic Schools, there is a separate authority that has been established to administer these funds.

The objectives of the Capital Grants Program are as follows:
Objective 1: provide and improve school capital infrastructure, particularly for the most educationally disadvantaged students;
Objective 2: ensure attention to the refurbishment-upgrading of capital infrastructure for existing students, while making provision for needs arising from new demographic and enrolment needs;
Objective 3: in implementing the above two objectives, also pursue and support the Australian Government’s other Priorities and Objectives for Schooling:

  1. Improve Literacy and Numeracy (specialist teaching areas not General Learning Areas);
  2. Improve closing the gap in educational outcomes between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous students;
  3. Support to students with additional needs;
  4. Improve education in low socio-economic status (SES) school communities;
  5. Improve teacher and school leader quality; and
  6. Support schools working with their local community

Within this context there are strict guidelines to be met. Priority is given to financially disadvantaged schools. These are schools in low socio-economic areas and the establishment of new schools. St Kevin’s does not fall into either of these. However, this does not rule us out of receiving Capital Grants. The process is that detailed submissions need to be lodged at the end of the previous year. There are always more submissions that there is money available. These submissions are assessed and Capital Grants are allocated around the middle of the year. Schools in high socio-economic area are very unlikely to receive a Capital Grant. If a school applies for a Capital Grant and is unsuccessful they may then apply for a Supplemental Grant. These are like a second round of offers but it is usually the case that a percentage of the funds requested are offered. You can only apply for this if you have already applied for the Capital Grant in that year. This makes for a lot of work and the Supplemental Process starts from scratch again.

At the end of 2012, St Kevin’s, together with assistance from the school accountant and the architects that worked with the school on the BER project submitted a grant application. As expected, we were unsuccessful in the initial grant and we then submitted another for the Supplemental process. These are not announced until December or January. In the 2013 school year there were limited grant funds available and St Kevin’s missed out. We were encouraged to re-apply again this year as the project value had been recognised. So, in December last year, we re-applied for a Capital Grant. The Grants Authority are currently deciding for the 2014 allocation. As per last year, we are not expecting to be successful as we are low on their priority list. We will then be able to apply for Supplemental funding and having been knocked back once before, our chances of success are increased. We are also aware the funds for grants are not as limited as in 2013.

So while we have put in much work and time to achieve this goal, it is a slow process. If we are successful this year, we will not find out until December of this year or January, 2015. We are hopeful.

What is it that St Kevin’s is wanting to achieve?

The plans below represent one alternative of what is possible. If we are successful and to what extent may alter the conceptual plans below. To view a larger copy of the architectural drawings below, please click on them.

School Aims

The schools aims and vision statement are as follows:

  1. Encourage an active faith based on gospel values and shared goals
  2. Welcome all members of the community with warmth and generosity promoting respect for all people
  3. Aim to develop confident and articulate young people in an inclusive environment that values tolerance and openness
  4. A learning community which encourages the pursuit of excellence
  5. Draw upon the inherent leadership skills of all members of the school community, to promote the wellbeing and future success of our students.

Open Space

The majority of the current play area for students is exposed hard surface. There is a small area of shaded play equipment in the church grounds.

Opportunities exist to improve the open space for students and staff through materials and landscaping. Through the removal of the eastern portables from council land and the consolidation of the school building as per the proposed plans, the open space will be further enhanced with the addition of this new area with optimal orientation and siting.

Opportunities & Constraints

Opportunities

  1. Internal refurbishment of existing buildings to optimise resources and facilities for staff and students.
  2. Potential to enhance the visual aspect of the school from the railway line and within school grounds through construction of a new architecturally significant addition and the consolidation of the existing portable buildings currently on site.
  3. Opportunity to better utilise existing toilet building footprint.
  4. Potential to increase north facing open space areas for students and staff.

Constraints

  1. Limited site area for redevelopment.
  2. Heritage façade facing street front to be preserved

Design Response

  • Proposed addition

Proposed new two storey addition located over existing toilet building footprint to the east of the main school building will consolidate buildings maximising open space available to students and staff.

The proposed addition at ground level will house new girls and boys toilets with a unisex disabled toilet. There will be two sizeable new storage areas for sports storage, accessed off new play area, and a storage area adjacent the new stairwell.

The first floor will provide two generous, flexible learning spaces that will connect to the existing classrooms. It will also allow for three additional office / withdrawal / resource spaces that will accommodate for individual learning. The first floor will overhang the ground creating a sheltered access way to the new toilet facilities.

  • New Recreation space

Consolidation of built form provides a secure new north facing play area that will connect with existing play areas. The relocation of the adventure play will allow the south eastern section of the site to be ungraded to soft play mod grass sports precinct (currently the entire playground is asphalt).

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 To view a larger image, please click each image.

UPDATE: This week the school received word that we had missed out on a Capital Grant. This was expected and we will now submit for a Supplemental Grant

Playground Development

Over the past few years, the school has been in discussion with the St Kevin’s Parish Tennis Club with a goal of redeveloping the tennis court closest to the school. This redevelopment would see a synthetic court surface installed, removal of the trees bordering the courts and installation of curtain fencing so that the court could be used as a much needed addition to the school grounds during school hours. While there has been several agreements made by the Tennis Club, each time the Tennis Club has stalled the process. The school and parish are continuing to work together to achieve this goal. The plans above show one version of what may be possible in this redevelopment.

Playground Background

A substantial portion of the school playground is in fact owned by the Glen Eira Council and St Kevin’s leases the land. The Tennis Courts are also are on leased land. This causes some added parameters that need to be taken into consideration for any future developments. The Catholic Church is the holder of both leases. The current lease has expired and the Catholic Church is currently in negotiations with the council to establish a new lease. They are also seeking variations on the current arrangements and talks between the two bodies continue. Until this is complete, our hands are tied with regard to continuing to drive our need for greater play space. Soon to be started rail works may also be impacting on delays in decisions being made.

Front of school

A few projects are currently in place to improve the look of the school’s west entry as well. Paula Wilson has worked in her role of developing community relationships and exploring sources of funding for the school. Several grants have been identified to target development of the grounds. Recently published was the success in gaining funding for a Landcare Grant. The senior students through their leadership groups are working with Paula in putting this funding to good use. Also targeted by the school for Paula to source is substantial funding grants going towards establishing community gardens. This would be directed to the front area of the school to co-exist with the establishment of a learning area. The Parents & Friends group has also raised funds towards this redevelopment. It make sense though to hold off on this until the other projects can be accomplished as School/P&F funds will be needed to complement grants or develop the Tennis Court area.

In another smaller project, the Parents & Friends, Bendigo Bank and School have combined funds to beautify and develop the entry of the school, between the front door and turning circle. At various stages over the years, this area has been reseeded and small attempts at tidying up have been undertaken. In the coming weeks a more substantial and long lasting project will commence in this small area to raise the overall impression of the school for all.

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