$2m to fix run-down school
Education Minister Peter Collier examines missing wall tiles at John Curtin College of the Arts during a visit in July.

Three months after Colin Barnett censured a principal in Parliament for warning parents his school was so run down it was a threat to students' health and safety, the State Government has given it more than $2 million for renovations.

Education Minister Peter Collier said yesterday that John Curtin College of the Arts would receive $2.75 million for new and refurbished toilets for staff and students, and to renew windows leaking water near power points.

In May, the Premier launched a stinging attack on college principal Mitchell Mackay after he wrote a letter to parents expressing disappointment the Fremantle public school had not received funding in the State Budget for much-needed capital works, even though it had significant health and safety problems and other similar schools had received up to $80 million.

Mr Barnett told Parliament it was inappropriate for a principal to send out a "politically charged document" on school stationery that was "clearly inflammatory".

Issues cited in the letter included science laboratories that had not been refurbished for 40 years, specialist music students forced to rehearse in a cramped demountable classroom, dilapidated toilets and inadequate heating and cooling.

Shadow education minister Paul Papalia said the funding announcement proved Mr Barnett's public attack had been unwarranted.

"Clearly, the principal of John Curtin College was completely justified in raising health and safety issues at the school in May," Mr Papalia said.

But Mr Collier said it was not about ensuring the "squeakiest wheel gets the oil" but about identifying key areas needing urgent attention. He was open to discuss similar issues with any principal.

He said he became concerned about the state of some of the school's facilities when he visited in July.

"It was made very clear to me that the old toilets and leaking windows were sub-standard and in need of urgent attention," Mr Collier said.

The renovations would take two years and would be aligned with any future works at the college.

Mr Mackay said he was pleased Mr Barnett and Mr Collier had visited recently and that steps were being taken to address issues at the school.

The West Australian

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