SPECIAL SCHOOL NEEDED
Principal on mission for CH families
EMERALD Christian College principal Graeme Johnston has taken up the reins in investigating the feasibility of opening a special school in Emerald.
Mr Johnston said he was approached by Member for Gregory Lachlan Millar, who was getting a lot of people approach him about current services not meeting the needs of families who have children with special needs.
“We have started to investigate what it would take to set up a special school through the independent system rather than the state system,” he said.
“Through experience, these things aren’t difficult to do if you are willing to put the effort into it. You just have to get out there, get the information, do a cost analysis and put the plan together. It takes a couple years to start a new school.”
He said in order to be able to do a budget, he needs 30 sets of data.
“You tend to find you ask for double of what you really need,” he said.
“You need about 15 sets of data to start the school. You then need to build a facility, which is roughly $1 million, and we can get some support from the government for that. We would need about $500,000 worth of funding.
“We currently only have 12 sets of data. People are cautious because they are trying to look after their children. It will take us about another month to gather that.”
Once he has collected 30 sets of data, Mr Johnston will send the data to Independent Schools Queensland for a cost analysis to work out what funding they would receive.
“If we are able to get the building largely funded by private enterprise in the area, then all we’ve got to cover is the wages and running cost of the school,” he said.
“Emerald Christian College is willing to donate some land to build it on.
“We are also willing to have it on our land so that where it is appropriate the kids can go and mix with our kids, they can go to the library and they can go to sports days, they can come and see science experiments.
“Based on previous experience, if we can get the building built, then the government funding should largely cover the cost of staff and wages, but we won’t know until we’ve done the cost analysis and we can’t do that until we have 30 sets of data.
“It’s about three years from now until the first kid goes to class in this facility, that’s about how long it takes.”
Mr Johnston believes you should be able to get the same services whether you live in Emerald or Brisbane.
“Whether it is a road you drive on or services at a local hospital, the same things should be available to everyone,” he said.
“If it is important enough to lift your family and move them hundreds of kilometres to get the services you need, it is important for us to try and find a way to do this.”
If you are interested and have a child you think would be eligible for the school, email Mr Johnston at email@example.com with the age of the child, child’s diagnosis and ranking in the education system (if known).
is important for us to try and find a way to do this.
LESSON IN PERSEVERANCE: Principal of Emerald Christian College Graeme Johnston is investigating the feasibility of opening a special school in Emerald, but he requires the community’s help to provide data on the service’s need.