At the price tag of $325 million, Parramatta has become the most expensive school precinct. The education minister Rob Stokes advocates the new Parramatta primary and high schools as state-of-the art buildings that will serve the students for a century.
High-rise building of Arthur Phillip High School and Parramatta Public School were estimated to cost about $100 million upon their announcement three years ago. But now Arthur Phillip High School will cost $227.5 million housing 2000 students and Parramatta Public School will cost $97.5 million housing 1000 students.
The reasons are the unexpected archaeological finds, an increase in the scale of design, increasing building costs because of the construction boom, over optimistic initial forecasts, and a desire to build a school that would stay the same for years and years.
The Education minister says that the initial cost estimate was extra-ordinarily naïve when we looked at what we were willing to create.
Opposition party claims it to be the mismanagement of government and the delivery of the project has proven to be a failure. On the other hand Teachers Federation welcomes the commitment to a quality school. They think that Governments give millions of dollars to private schools, so they welcome the investment in a state school.
The Arthur Phillip High School will be 17 floors high and feature double height floors and mezzanine levels, six oversized lifts, and breezy verandah learning spaces. The students will be able to gaze across Parramatta from 17th floor, and down into a glass-covered historic cellar from their playground.
The school will serve as the prototype for future high-rise schools such as the inner city high school to be built on Cleveland Street. Plus, the lessons learned from Parramatta will help make other projects easier and cheaper.
The building is expected to finish in February when the internal fit-out will begin. The school will open to some students, but not all, in term four next year.
The government could have cut corners in building the school but instead it took extra money from the treasury to build it properly from the beginning and incorporate design feature to make it everlasting.
Government did not want to do the same mistake as done after post-war period.Students studying in buildings of that period are stuck inside hot, mouldy, poorly-ventilated buildings.
Looking at the vision of education minister and the government, Treasury was more than happy to provide the money so it could be done well.
Increasing the floor space by 15 percent will cost $50 million.
The school will feature open plan learning spaces that can be partitioned into classrooms. The teachers will move between classes to avoid congestion. There will be CCTVs and access control systems everywhere.
Some people think that open classrooms are a fad but the Education Minister is adamant about it. He has planned everything and then worked on it.
Amidst all these speculations about worthiness of the project, only the end result can clear things out.