Specialist School plans are almost completed

By Riverine Herald

ECHUCA Specialist School is close to finalising its plans for the new school.

Principal Paul Marshall said a recent video conference call with Melbourne government officials would hopefully take the school a step closer to the new Twin Rivers School building.

‘‘We’re just about to finalise the planning,’’ he said.

‘‘That’s gone through a number of stages. It was signed off by our school council, then it goes off to the education department.

‘‘Tuesday (late last month) was the very final meeting. We planned to link into Melbourne to go over each individual part of the design. We need to make sure every power point is in the right spot and so on then it will go out to tender.’’

Mr Marshall said he expected final approvals ‘‘pretty soon after’’ the meeting.

‘‘We will go out to tender mid-January,’’ he said.

‘‘Basically everything shuts down from middle December to middle January.

‘‘Nothing can really happen at that time. Hopefully we can start building early next year.

‘‘We’re still hoping, if everything falls into place, that we will be in at the start of 2020.’’

Mr Marshall’s school 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.

The Victorian Government later reversed its decision and said it would fund the school, should it win the election, with planning to start immediately.

Mr Marshall said it had been a long process but he — and the rest of the school community — were excited about the move.

‘‘Everyone is very excited,’’ he said.

‘‘I am a little bit nervous because there’s a lot of work to be done between now and then.

‘‘In terms of the actual physical move of the school, we have a lot of equipment that will need to move.

‘‘It’s also about setting up the staffing and working with Twin Rivers to ensure that we have that positive transition across.’’

But there will be some teething issues, Mr Marshall admits.

‘‘I know that,’’ he said. ‘‘We have challenging students and we have challenges along the way to ensure that transition is as smooth as possible.

‘‘But with the community’s understanding of people with a disability that has broken down a lot of the barriers and we’ve been able to already start a relationship with Twin Rivers.’’

In a way, the specialist school has already started moving in as it operates a cafe out of the new facility.

‘‘That’s going great guns,’’ Mr Marshall said.

‘‘The students have really enjoyed having that opportunity to be in a new building but also to be able to feel like they are giving back and participating, socialising and being a part of the community which they live in.’’