THE countdown is on for 75 Horsham Special School students to move into their new $6-million school.
The state-of-the-art new building, in High Street, is all but complete.
Students started touring the school last week as part of a transition. They will move in at the start of term three.
Horsham Special School council president Max Cuddihy said the building process took about a year but talk of a new school started about 14 years ago.
He said the upgrade proved better than his own expectations.
“It’s just magnificent,’’ he said.
“You just have to see it to believe it.’’
The modern, brightly-lit school is built around its centrepiece – a sensory courtyard.
Mr Cuddihy said the courtyard cost $147,000 and was a major feature of the school.
The courtyard offers a place for students to relax and develop their senses.
It includes seats, hopscotch and bars for students to rub against if they are wound up.
The building surrounding the courtyard includes four junior and four senior classrooms.
The senior section includes a home economics area with five stoves.
The junior and senior areas have separate playgrounds, which include bike tracks and in-ground trampolines.
Mr Cuddihy said other highlights of the school included a sensory room with carpeted walls and rooms for therapy.
He said the school’s design focused on students’ needs.
“The whole idea is getting the kids as independent as possible,’’ he said.
Mr Cuddihy has been involved in the project for several years, after being asked to join the council and help with the project.
“I thought ‘that is impossible – I’ll get on board’,’’ he said.
Mr Cuddihy said it was a slow process to secure funding.
“Four years in a row it was going to be next year,’’ he said.
The school received $7 million in the 2011 state budget.
Mr Cuddihy said he was thrilled with the end result.
“I just can’t believe it, even having been involved for six-and-a-half years,’’ he said.
“The plans didn’t show how good it would be.’’
Principal Matt Copping has been involved in the project since moving to Horsham two-and-a-half years ago.
He said the new building was a great way for the school to celebrate its 25th anniversary.
Mr Copping said the new building would allow the school to offer first-class special education.
“It has areas to be able to undertake special curriculum and therapy programs,’’ he said.
Mr Copping said the school’s current site had junior students in portable classrooms and senior students in a refurbished building.
He said the refurbished building was originally the automotive and wool-classing wings of Horsham Technical College.
“It’s just not built for special education,’’ he said.
Mr Copping said students, staff and the school council had walked through the new building.
“The reaction from everyone has been elation, really,’’ he said.
“I pinch myself every time I walk through there. It’s not just rooms with four walls and a roof. It’s unique.”
People can take a look through the new building on June 21 at 1pm or 5.30pm.