Play fray

• PINING FOR A PLAYGROUND: Iain Kirkham, Paul Gamblin, Emma Herrick and Simone McGurk with William, Charlotte and Griffin. Photo by Matthew Dwyer

• PINING FOR A PLAYGROUND: Iain Kirkham, Paul Gamblin, Emma Herrick and Simone McGurk with William, Charlotte and Griffin. Photo by Matthew Dwyer

An entire block of buildings at Fremantle primary school—including classrooms—is so structurally unsound it is to be torn down.

D Block includes classrooms, the canteen, staff room and toilets. WA education department infrastructure chief John Fischer says no decision has been about replacing the block.

“The staff room has been relocated to a spare classroom, classes are being relocated to other classrooms where needed, transportable toilets are on site and John Curtin College of the Arts will provide canteen services in the interim,” he says.

How long the block has been unsound and what caused it are unknown.

Meanwhile, the department is kicking in $20,000 for new playground equipment at the school. Much of the playground was removed recently so a punctured sewer line could be repaired.

But the equipment could not be reinstalled because it no longer met required standards.

Just two pieces of the playground remain, shared amongst 250 students.

P&C president Felicity Clarke says new equipment will cost $50,000 and with the department going less than halfway, parents are being asked to help.

“Play is one of the most important parts of development for children,” she says. “Parents are being asked to contribute one hour of their salaries.

“If the target of $5000 is raised by the end of the week the reward will be a sumo-wrestling challenge between the principal and deputy principal at the next school assembly.”

She says the tight-knit Brennan Street school’s community will also ask the council to contribute.

“The school community has been hit hard this year,” Ms Clarke says.

“The kids have put up with sub-standard toilets for a long time and now we’re losing a whole building and our canteen.

“We lost our iconic Moreton Bay fig tree because contamination, and now it’s the playground.”

Fremantle state Labor MP Simone McGurk says premier Colin Barnett is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on his “own playgrounds”—Elizabeth Quay and the new footy stadium—so he should be able to afford funding the playground.

“In a rich state like Western Australia the government should be able to fund playground facilities for school children,” she says. “Surely, it’s not too much to ask.”

by BRENDAN FOSTER

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