I would im­plore James Mer­lino to an­nounce straight away we are go­ing to get the fund­ing im­me­di­ately to be able to build the new school. We have been wait­ing for a long time for this. We de­serve it – the stu­dents de­serve it, the fam­i­lies de­serve it, the wh

The Riverine Herald - - NEWS - Ben Ridge

“Time has gone on and sev­eral prin­ci­pals have come and gone; now it’s my turn. Hope­fully soon it will be our chance.”

As­sis­tant prin­ci­pal Ben Ridge said it was un­for­tu­nate the school did not re­ceive fund­ing in this year’s state bud­get.

“Which is re­ally dis­ap­point­ing be­cause the in­clu­sion op­por­tu­ni­ties that would have hap­pened were un­able to,” he said.

“It’s re­ally dis­ap­point­ing for our stu­dents.

“We do have fan­tas­tic pro­grams at our school but the fa­cil­i­ties are not pur­pose built and we’re re­ally re­ly­ing on that fund­ing to give the stu­dents, staff and the com­mu­nity what they need and that is the new school.”

Mr Ridge worked at Echuca South Pri­mary School – one of two schools al­ready in the Twin Rivers School – be­fore join­ing the spe­cial­ist school two years ago.

“Ob­vi­ously I am aware of the chal­lenges over the past 10 years and have been ac­tively in­volved in the past five years in the plan­ning phase and was hop­ing it would be a smooth tran­si­tion to the new site but ob­vi­ously we have been left out.

“We are re­ally look­ing for­ward to giv­ing the kids the op­por­tu­nity of the in­clu­sive op­tion at Twin Rivers.”

Mr Ridge said the spe­cial­ist school com­mu­nity was strong but feel­ing hurt.

“We’re the only spe­cial­ist school in this area – peo­ple have to travel to Swan Hill, Shep­par­ton or Bendigo (oth­er­wise) but it's quite chal­leng­ing to keep the staff and stu­dents up­beat be­cause we are reliant on that fund­ing,” he said.

“We did have quite a few stu­dents come in when they heard the news who were quite up­set.

“We had to ex­plain there was a process.

“In­clu­sive ed­u­ca­tion is re­ally im­por­tant and we re­ally need the fund­ing to sup­port our stu­dents and com­mu­nity mov­ing for­ward and giv­ing them the best op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“The com­mu­nity sup­port has been amaz­ing … we’ve had nu­mer­ous peo­ple vol­un­teer their time and money to pro­vide ser­vices to our stu­dents which has been re­ally lovely.”

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