Education Minister James Merlino gave the overcrowded school an “early Christmas present” on Thursday, ringing the SDS to let them know they would be able to start work to build a new school.
“I have visited this school on multiple occasions and I know the challenges they face,” he said.
“For too long, Warrnambool Special Developmental School has been bursting at the seams, and I am proud that we have delivered on this important promise.
“Unlike the Liberal Party we will not ignore the south-west. I have always said we would finish what we started and I am very happy to be making this announcement today.”
The school community had pushed for new facilities after growing enrolments pushed the old site to its limits. Labor promised to upgrade the school prior to the last election.
Warrnambool SDS principal Robert Dowell said the news was “absolutely marvellous”.
He said a note would be going home with students on Thursday afternoon to let parents know.
“Now we know we can move forward to the next stage, the building stage,” he said.
”We’re ready to go to tender.
For too long Warrnambool SDS has been bursting at the seams.James Merlino
“We’re very, very happy, it’s marvellous news and we’re looking forward to a bright and happy future.”
Assistant principal Sue Fraser said it meant the students would have appropriate playing areas and a proper library and staff would have up-to-date facilities.
“The students and staff here certainly deserve a state-of-the-art school,” she said.
The school has been given $19.6 million in total from the state government towards the new facilities.
Parent Emily Reeves, who was part of a group that pushed for the project to get funding, said it took a minute for the news to sink in.
“This is the day that we have been waiting for,” she said.
Year ten students Joel Lehmann and Caleb Cocking were all smiles on Thursday.
“Money’s finally come through for our new school,” Joel said.
Bipartisan pledge secures school’s future
Within minutes on Thursday afternoon, both the state government and the opposition had publicly pledged to see the upgrade of the Warrnambool Special Developmental School through.
Education Minister James Merlino announced an “early Christmas present” of $14.6 million for a new school just minutes after opposition education spokesman Tim Smith said that if elected next year, a Liberal government would fully fund a new school too.
“A Liberal government will get the job done and build a new Warrnambool Special Developmental School,” Mr Smith said.
Politics aside, Warrnambool SDS school council president Jay Everall welcomed the news.
“We are super excited that both sides of politics have taken the approach that it needs to be done,” he said.
”It allows us to be well aware if there happens to be a change of government, we’ve still got that commitment.”
Mr Everall said the timing of the announcement was a great way to finish the school year.
“I want to thank the school council, the general community and everyone involved ... for their support and advice,” he said.
South west coast MP Roma Britnell said she was pleased with the outcome, and it had been an easy case to make to opposition leader Matthew Guy.
“It means that the children will have the education environment that every child should have,” she said.
Mrs Britnell said the end result was important.
“How this has happened doesn’t matter,” she said.
“I’m proud to have made this announcement if that has resulted in Labor coming out and making the announcement as well.”