23 Apr 2018 Wangaratta Chronicle, Wangaratta VIC (General News) by Steve Kelly Wangaratta schools in desperate need of regeneration, modernisation CHILDREN with specialist learning needs are closer to getting the facilities they deserve with the announcement of $2.2 million that will be used to plan for new school buildings. Wangaratta District Specialist School (WDSS), together with neighbouring Appin Park Primary School will share in the funding that will increase each schools capacity and allow the detailed planning to take place. The funding was announced on Friday ahead of the State Governments 2018/19 budget that will be released on May 1. A spokesperson for Jaclyn Symes (MLC, Northern Victoria) said the money will allow the schools to increase capacity and start planning for new infrastructure. Some $12 million has been touted as the sum needed to build a whole new school for WDSS and the spokesperson said it could be possible to finish the planning in time for the 2019/20 state budget. Both WDSS and Appin Park will work with the Victorian School Building Authority this year and consult with community stakeholders, with plans hopefully to be completed by the end of 2018 or early next year, the spokesperson said. With any luck it will be in time for the next state budget so more funding can be acquired. WDSS principal Chris Harvison said they are completely open to all possibilities about how the school or where it might take shape in the future. He said they will undertake planning and feasibility and if it is a timeframe of 12 months, theyll aim to be shovel ready in time for the next budget. We would expect that every option would be explored and wed be really interested to do some consultation with the school community, staff, school council and parents in general to generate ideas, he said. Continued page 2 $2.2M to plan for regeneration, modernisation From page 1 We wouldnt rule anything out and we need to be open minded and creative about the way we approach this. The school will also look at whats already happening nationally that would be considered best practice, and types of facilities other education entities are using and why. Options could involve WDSS moving to a new site because the school is bursting at the seams, including the use of satellite classrooms in place at Appin Park PS. Mr Harvison said there are elements at WDSS they consider to be non-negotiables such as therapeutic spaces for the allied health team to work with kids, sensory spaces, and engine rooms to allow for practice of self-regulation. There are unique spaces needed that perhaps wouldnt be at a mainstream school, he said. Appin Park PS currently has an enrolment base of 205 students and principal Dale Carmody said short-term measures would be to refurbish and modernise existing buildings. Long-term goals are to plan for the replacement of 35 year old buildings which makes up 80 per cent of the school. When you show prospective new families around they look for the new and wiz-bang, and this a chance to modernise the main building and refurbish as well, he said. I would back our teachers in against anyone but sometimes prospective families dont look for that, they look at the bricks and mortar. Appin Park will look at developing sensory area outdoor play areas as well along with the front of the buildings and other tactile play areas. We are excited about this funding and the satellite classes have allowed us to work together and now we can look at that planning together, Mr Carmody said. The 2018/19 budget will invest $180.8 million to build and upgrade 60 regional Victorian schools, with $22.9 million going towards Northern Victoria electorate schools. Caption Text: HIGHER HOPES: WDDS principal Chris Harvison and Appin Park Primary School principal Dale Carmody (back), with Liam Mossop, Jessica Elkan, Jayah Martens, Josie Donald and Jessica Elkan. PHOTO: Emma HillierLicensed by Copyright Agency. You may only copy or communicate this work with a licence.