Shepparton's Verney Road School will find a new home at the former Wanganui Park Secondary School site after receiving a significant funding boost.
- $23.8 million has been promised to build a new home for a Shepparton special school
- The school, built for 75 students, now has more than 230, plus staff
- The new building is expected to open in the 2026 school year
The school, which provides learning and purposeful pathways for students from the age of three to 18 with mild to profound intellectual disabilities, has outgrown its current site.
School principal Angela Buxton said enrolments had topped 230 students at a site orignally built for about 75.
"So we're probably well over capacity at the moment," she said.
"It's still a relatively young school, built in 1999, but it's expanded so rapidly."
Upholding a promise
The Victorian government announced more than $326 million in the 2022/23 state budget to ensure 36 special schools received substantial upgrades.
Almost $24 million of that allocated funding will go towards building the new Verney Road School.
Treasurer Tim Pallas said the project was more than just an upgrade when he visited the school to make the announcement.
"(It's) a brand new school which will provide, hopefully, the sort of quality education that this school and our special needs schools more generally have become so well regarded for," he said.
The former Wanganui Park Secondary School site has been vacant since the end of 2021 after four schools merged when the Greater Shepparton Secondary College opened.
The government made a promise to retain the former campus for educational purposes and Mr Pallas said the development demonstrated the government's commitment to that promise.
Design and use
How the school will look at its new site and what the current campus will be used for after the build is very much still at concept stage.
School and community members are working with architects on a design to ensure all needs are met and hope to have a plan by the end of the year.
"We are very keen on inclusion within our community and pathways for our students," Ms Buxton said.
Student Damian Peterson, 12, said while he would miss the current school he was looking forward to a larger site with more open space.
"Maybe some new playground equipment and some other fun stuff that the kids will like," he said.
"It will be sad that we'll move but (I'm) happy we'll go to the new school," he said.
Construction is expected to start next year and it's hoped the new site will be open for the 2026 school year.