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Uncertainty surrounds education precinct future

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Education precinct

UNCERTAINTY still surrounds the future of the Warracknabeal Education Precinct following the omission of funding in the recent state budget for the last two stages of the project.

The original concept, first conceived over 12 years ago, was to bring the three schools to come together in one location and create an education hub for the town.

With funding received in the 2016 State Budget the long awaited dream looked to become reality with stage one funded.

Excitement began to grow as builders moved in and the first sod was turned last year.

Fast forward 12 months, students at the Primary School attend classes in a glorified building site with no idea where or when the funding for stages two and three will come along while students from the Secondary College and Special Development School wonder if they will ever see their promised new schools.

Maintaining the fightImmediately following the release of the budget and the lack of funding became obvious, Primary School principal, Michael Maloney, together with the other principals, vowed to maintain the fight for the precinct to be completed.

A big step in this direction will be a visit from representatives of the Education Department to have a look through the site and discuss the future of the project.

Mr Maloney is looking forward to direct contact with the department.

“It will be good to see them on site to see for themselves the situation we are dealing with,” he said.

He believes a major issue with the project is a lack of understanding of the concept.

He hopes the visit will go a long way to solving this part of the problem.

Immediate future

On completion of the stage one, someone will have to occupy the buildings and while a final decision has not yet been made, it appears SDS will move into the site.

“The likelihood/proposal is that SDS students will move into the completed buildings,” Mr Maloney said.

“The Junior school will move into the SDS building currently under construction and the middle and senior students will use the Secondary College building,” he said.

The schools expect to know the decision within two months.

Scathing

Local member, Emma Kealy, has been scathing of the current government stating Warracknabeal has been let down and students left in an untenable situation.

“Warracknabeal school communities have been left stunned that Labour failed to fund Stage-2 of the Warracknabeal Education Precinct. Labour previously funded only part of the Special Development School build and part of the Secondary College build.”

“Now the schools have been left with the impossible decision of either working over split campuses when they simply do not have enough staff, or just stay put and leave brand new part-built schools empty,” Ms Kealy said.

Escalating concern

Ms Kealy has made numerous representations to the Government for urgent funding to complete Stage-2 and consolidate all the schools on the one site after personally visiting the schools and seeing fi rsthand the poor condition of facilities on the existing sites.

She has escalated the community’s concern about the half-completed state of the project in Parliament.

“Labor have really stuffed this up, and its Principals, educators and students will have to work with Labor’s mess of half built schools,” Ms Kealy said.

However, there has been no indication from the opposition parties as to whether funding would become available with a change of government.