High school students, their principal and Steph Cooke MP stand with an oversized cheque.
Gundagai High School Principal Simon Bridgeman and Steph Cooke stand with the Sustainable Schools Grant and Gundagai High School students.

Two schools in the Cootamundra Electorate will soon be starting innovative projects focused on sustainability thanks to a new grants program from the NSW Government.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke today announced Gundagai High School and Beckom Public School were the local recipients for the NSW Government’s inaugural $2.5 million Sustainable Schools Grants.

Ms Cooke said she was excited about the new student-led program that’s focused on improving the environment at schools.

“I am thrilled that Gundagai High and Beckom Public have been successful with their grant applications,” Ms Cooke said.

“We have so many fantastic schools in our region who are brimming with innovation.”

“The Sustainable Schools Grants will empower students and school communities to implement projects that will benefit the environment by helping to save energy or water, reduce waste, or improve biodiversity.” 

“I look forward to seeing these wonderful projects come to life in the coming months.”

Gundagai High School received $15,000 for its Agriculture and Waterwise project which will collect and store water off the school’s roofs in a new tank. The rainwater will be used to irrigate the School Agriculture plot, provide water for livestock and small vegetable gardens planted by students.

Beckom Public School received $5,489.18 for its Kids in the Kitchen and Garden project which will involve a new school kitchen garden growing seasonal vegetables, teaching students about propagation and planning, sustainable gardening methods and water conservation. 

Gundagai High School Principal Simon Bridgeman said he was excited about the funding for his school’s project.

“The grants are a fantastic initiative because we are able to put in a big water tank to collect rain off a large roof space and utilise it on our ag plot to help with growing crops and watering our livestock. The students and our agriculture focus are going to get an immediate benefit out of this,” Mr Bridgeman said.

Principal of Beckom Public School Emma Speirs said the grant has been welcomed by the entire community.

“Beckom Public School is very excited to have received the grant for the sustainable schools. It will allow us to further develop our kids in the kitchen program, with the growing of fruits and vegetables together with the cooking of healthy and sustainable meals,” Ms Speirs said.

“We are thrilled to partner with our parents and community in this project to encourage student engagement. We look forward to building on our authentic community connections, whilst encouraging sustainable practices.”

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said 194 NSW public schools received Sustainable Schools Grants ranging from $1,000 to $15,000 each.

“I’m very glad that schools from across the state embraced the new Sustainable Schools Grants whole heartedly,” Ms Mitchell said.

“The standard of all the submissions was very impressive, and I commend all the participating schools on their efforts.”

“Grant applications included innovative sustainability projects such as kitchen gardens, water storage strategies, and even bee highways to improve biodiversity.

“I encourage other schools to start thinking of applying for the next round of grants.”

The Sustainable Schools Grants program, which provides a total of $10 million over four years, is open to all NSW public schools and preschools with the next application round open in November.

The NSW Government is investing $6.7 billion over four years to deliver 190 new and upgraded schools to support communities across NSW. In addition, a record $1.3 billion is being spent on school maintenance over five years, along with a record $500 million for the sustainable Cooler Classrooms program to provide air conditioning to schools. This is the largest investment in public education infrastructure in the history of NSW.