Katherine High School urgently needs an upgrade so parents are not forced to look at sending their children away to boarding schools, Katherine MLA Jo Hersey has told Parliament.
Ms Hersey used her opening speech in the NT Parliament on Tuesday to highlight her concerns about spending in Katherine, with a special focus on the high school.
"I would like to see schools in Katherine get the infrastructure they need to be able to be as well-equipped as the Darwin schools," she said.
"Many schools in Katherine need infrastructure upgrades and would afford the same money being spent on them.
"Science labs, library upgrades, fridges and lockers, and home economics departments are just a few of the upgrades that need attention at our high school.
"In the last 30 years, Katherine High School has had the BER money-a federal initiative-spent on it and more recently the BBS $300,000-a Northern Territory initiative-as well as a few touch-ups on the exterior, but nothing major.
"The demographic at the school makes it difficult to attract teachers and with the funding for housing taken away, this also makes it not as attractive as Darwin or other larger centres in the Territory.
"The hard-working, dedicated teachers need to be supported more than they are.
"We need to make the high school a place parents are happy to send their children and invest in their children's education as they are our future, not make it a reason to send them away to boarding school which is a huge expense not everyone can afford nor should they have to.
"Everyone has a right to raise their children in the home as opposed to being brought up by a house parent. If we are serious about looking after the students wellbeing and staff these upgrades are a must.
"Parents should not have to have fundraising events for the most basic of items like chairs and desks," she said.
Ms Hersey said in preparing her first speech to the Parliament since she was elected to replace Sandra Nelson in August, she recognised how her town had largely missed out on government spending.
"On reflecting whilst writing this speech, it occurred to me that there was a lot more infrastructure being built 30 years ago and we seem to have stagnated in Katherine. I would like to be able to start to turn that around over the next term of government."
Ms Hersey spent much of her speech thanking her supporters, family and friends for her election win.
"I reassure my constituents that I will not be afraid to have honest and frank conversations with stakeholders in the community. I will not be afraid to champion the cause for my community and will not be afraid to call a spade a shovel-after all, my community would be disappointed should I do anything different."
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox each Friday at 6am from the Katherine Times. To make sure you're up to date with all the news, sign up here.