Government confirms school build starts soon

By Riverine Herald

THE plans for the Echuca Specialist School are finally signed, sealed and delivered to the Victorian Government.

Principal Paul Marshall said designs for the school were complete and had been handed to the education department.

‘‘We were working out data points and that’s been finalised and sent out. The department will do their final checks on it,’’ he said.

Then it will go to tender mid-February, Mr Marshall predicted.

‘‘We will get that school built 12 months after that period (tender being announced),’’ he said.

But he is yet to receive confirmation from the government that funding for the big move to Twin Rivers would be released. ESS initially missed out on funding in this year’s state budget which meant it could not move into the new Twin Rivers School which has already merged Echuca West and Echuca South primary schools.

After a relentless campaign the government reversed its decision and said it would fund the school as part of a $16.7 million commitment, should it win the election which it did in November.

At the time the government said it would invest a further $5.7 million (on top of the required $11 million) to complete stage three, which includes classrooms at the primary school, as well as a sports oval, play areas, and hard courts at the special school.

‘‘The government said it would release the money sooner rather than later but we haven’t had confirmation on that,’’ Mr Marshall said.

However, when contacted by the Riverine Herald for comment, Education Minister James Merlino confirmed plans for the school were full speed ahead.

“There is no delay in funding and we anticipate the tender to go out late January 2019,’’ he said.

“Planning for the new school is underway and set to be completed by the end of the year and construction will start in early 2019.

“We will be investing an additional $16.7 million to deliver the final two stages of the project, which includes more facilities at the new Echuca Twin Rivers Primary School precinct and a new Echuca P-12 Special School to be located at the same site.”

Mr Marshall said the schools were already working together.

‘‘On the first day next year (Tuesday, January 29) we will be having a curriculum day together with Twin Rivers,’’ he said.

‘‘It will be exciting to start that process of being co-located.

‘‘So on the first day we will join together with all of our staff and all of their staff to work together on different activities about bringing the schools together.’’

The specialist school is expected to be in the new school on day one of 2020.