Jubilation over school announcement

A FOUR hectare site has been secured for a new Sale Specialist School, with Tuesday’s state budget also set to deliver $4 million for planning and stage one works.

Deputy premier and Gippsland South MLA Peter Ryan said a four hectare site on the Princes Highway, Stratford side of Sale east of Sale Baptist Church, had been acquired, with the balance of money for the project, anticipated to be $15 million, to follow.

“Securing the land and providing an initial $4 million to begin stage one works confirms what we have all been hoping for, and that is a new specialist school will be built in Sale to cater for the growing number of students,” he said.

Mr Ryan said the site chosen was one of the largest of the 13 sites originally offered up by local landowners, enabling construction of a school which would cater for a growing demand in years to come.

The $4 million stage one of the project is expected to deliver an administration hub and construction will also begin on classrooms.

Mr Ryan said planning and design works for the new school would now begin, with initial works at the site to follow.

“I strongly encourage parents and families to share their vision and ideas with the school board about how they would like the school designed and built,” he said.

School principal Shelagh Donegan welcomed the funding announcement.

She said members of the New School Parent Action Group including Elaine Fiddelaers, Di Bonney, Pam Stevens, Jane Nash, Heather Flynn and Sara Kewley had been instrumental in the campaign to secure a new school.

“It has been a long time coming; for many years we have been short of space,” Ms Donegan said.

“We have a campus at Guthridge Parade and at Desailly St, and a school was built in Bairnsdale because there was a need.

“It’s sad when 70 students can’t meet together; kids don’t know kids and parents don’t know parents.

“Parents have had to find meeting rooms off site.

“Kids have missed out and staff have done it tough.”

Ms Donegan said the neighbouring estate would allow for a second access point, and thanked the education department for the foresight of buying a four hectare site, which would allow for growth.

“It allows for extra growth but we can create a buffer from the highway, which is a dangerous area,” she said.

“I’m going to be like a Bull Terrier, hoping for money in the next budget to complete the project.”

Gippsland East MLA Tim Bull said the school would attract families to the region.

He said 50 families had relocated to Bairnsdale following construction of a school for children with special needs.

“Having four hectares when you are looking for 2.5 is important for expansion, because the school will attract people,” Mr Bull said.

“In Bairnsdale we had 16 enrolments, and were told we wouldn’t reach 70 in 10 years.

“We now have 135 enrolments.”