SPE­CIAL SCHOOL NEEDED

Prin­ci­pal on mis­sion for CH fam­i­lies

Central Queensland News - - FRONT PAGE - Aden Stokes Aden.Stokes@cqnews.com.au

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 g.john­ston@ecc.qld.edu.au with the age of the child, child’s di­ag­no­sis and rank­ing in the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem (if known).

❝It

is im­por­tant for us to try and find a way to do this.

PHOTO: ADEN STOKES

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.

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