FUNDING to buy land and begin planning for the new Sale Specialist School has been secured as part of the 2013-14 Victorian Budget.
Deputy Premier and Gippsland South MLA Peter Ryan said the funding was the critical first step in delivering a new Sale Specialist School.
“I know how passionate and committed the Sale Specialist School community has been in pushing for a new school on a single site, so I am absolutely delighted to be announcing this funding commitment,” Mr Ryan said.
“The funding will enable land to be identified and purchased, and the planning and design of the school to be in place ready for construction when the remaining funding is secured.
“An expression of interest process will soon be launched to identify a well located, fully serviced site for the new Sale Specialist School.”
The news of the funding was welcomed with excitement by Sale Specialist School principal Shelagh Donegan.
“We at the school very much welcome this announcement; it will enable us to purchase a site and begin planning for a purpose built school,” she said.
“We look forward to securing the land as soon as possible.”
Ms Donegan stressed planning for the new school needed to take into account its increasing enrolment.
“We are excited and thankful for the support we have received from the New School Parents’ Action Group, the community and all the politicians who have lobbied on our behalf,” she said.
” This is the first step in a long process, which we need to keep on track,” she said.
“The hard work will not be over until we walk in the door.”
School council president Alan Rankin was equally excited by the announcement.
“The council is really pleased there is provision of funding to secure the site, but it is only the first step in a long journey,” he said.
Mr Rankin stressed this budget allocation needed to be followed up with funding to build the school in a subsequent budget.
” We appreciate the support of the community and acknowledge the support we have received from Mr Ryan and from Darren Chester, who raised our plight in federal parliament.
Mr Ryan said good financial management by the state government meant a new site could be purchased for the Sale Specialist School, which was at capacity.
“Due to rising enrolments, the Sale Specialist School has had to expand beyond its Raymond St campus to include a senior campus within the grounds of Sale College,” Mr Ryan said.
“Having two campuses is a less than ideal situation, however this announcement will mean the students of Sale Specialist School can look forward to a school which is designed to maximise their educational opportunities.”
Mr Ryan said the state government had been a champion of special education.
“The Coalition has provided record funding for the Program for Students with Disabilities and Students with Disabilities Transport Program, and the single largest capital investment in specialist and autism schools across metropolitan and regional Victoria for over a decade.”