Special school calls for redevelopment

DISAPPOINTED: Kalianna Special School students Tully M, Christian D, school council member Gail Hardy and student Caity H in the school's horticulture area, in front of the portable classroom. Picture: JIM ALDERSEY

DISAPPOINTED: Kalianna Special School students Tully M, Christian D, school council member Gail Hardy and student Caity H in the school's horticulture area, in front of the portable classroom. Picture: JIM ALDERSEY

KALIANNA Special School parents and staff say the school needs to be rebuilt.

School council members and principal Peter Bush say the 40-year-old buildings are run down, small and unsuitable for the school’s 220 special-needs students.

The prep-to-year-12 school has launched a petition after writing to members of parliament to request funding for a redevelopment.

“All other secondary schools in Bendigo have had funding for modernisation projects,” Mr Bush said.

“Why are we not being listened to?”

The growing school’s classrooms are small and dimly lit. Some have no air conditioning.

The smallest classroom, a converted cleaning demonstration room, is about seven by five metres and houses 12 students, a teacher and teacher’s assistant. 

Mr Bush said the school had to employ a maintenance person four days a week to keep up with repairs.

School council member and mother of a student, Gail Hardy said the school’s facilities let it down.

“The staff are fabulous and they work very hard,” she said.

“We have a great environment and a great community. It’s only the facilities that are lacking.”

Ms Hardy said the school’s toilet cubicles were too small and did not match modern disability standards.

“This is a special school with a lot of kids who need special facilities, that’s why they’re here,” she said.

"But we just seem to get the left-overs."

The school community faced further disappointment when an old portable classroom arrived at the end of term one in the wrong position, partly blocking access to a horticultural education area.

State Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards took up the issue, saying she agreed with the school council's impression that students with disabilities who attended the school were not being treated equally within the education system.

A Department of Education and Early Childhood Development spokesman said the portable's location was based on sound planning principles and was agreed with the principal. He said the building would be refurbished and ready for use by the end of June.

A spokeswoman for Education Minister Martin Dixon said the Coalition government had delivered more than $1 billion for school infrastructure since coming to office.

"The Victorian Coalition government is balancing the capital and maintenance needs of more than 1500 government schools across Victoria," she said. 

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