My matter this evening is for the Minister for Education, and it is in relation to the Warrnambool Special Developmental School. It was determined in 2012 that the school was under-established in terms of entitlement rooms. Last year it was determined that based on its then student numbers, it was under-established by four classrooms — obviously due to the ever increasing numbers. The census for 2012 was 89.8 full-time equivalent (FTE); the February census of 2013 was 93.6 FTE; and the February census of 2014 estimate was 103. This issue was becoming further exacerbated.
The facilities at the school were further complicated by the fact that it had now run out of room to place any other new buildings on the site, thus requiring the department to negotiate with the community college next door to place a new portable on its property.
A Mod 5 portable configured for special school use was promised to be ready by the start of this school year. On 6 January that building arrived, but it was a shell. It had not been refurbished at all. The school then found that the building was previously used as an administrative building, which meant there were further difficulties with it. The bathroom dimensions could not accommodate change tables, thus resulting in further delays to ensure the proper dimensions to allow access.
The department has known for over 12 months about the overcrowded conditions at the school, and I find it inexcusable that we now — two months or more since the new school year has commenced — still have huge problems at the school. This delay has caused considerable disruption to the school, as students have had to be moved around continually, and the delay has also affected the students.
The school council is saying the situation is ‘causing significant disorder to our students, many of whom are highly autistic and do not cope with change of any type’.
The action I seek is that the minister get involved as a matter of urgency. He should rectify this situation. It is absolutely unacceptable — for me, the school council and students at the school.