THE group behind a campaign to have the Warracknabeal Education Precinct funded to completion is over the moon at achieving its goal.
The state government announced on Monday it would give $19.8 million towards the second and final stage of the project. The project will bring together the Warracknabeal Primary School, Warracknabeal Special Developmental School and Warracknabeal Secondary College onto one campus.
In the 2016-17 state budget, the college received $4 million and the special developmental school received $2 million for stage one.
The project has been waiting since then for about $16 million to complete stage two.
A group of about 10 parents created the Finish What You Started campaign to call for the precinct to be completed.
Parent Karly Kirk has been campaigning with the group for the past three or four years.
She was ecstatic when Member for Western Victoria Jaala Pulford gave her the good news ahead of Monday's announcement.
"Very, very excited - I can hardly take it in," she said.
"We've been hopeful every May for the past four years that we'd get money in the state budget. We didn't really expect anything until the budget was announced this year - it was a complete surprise."
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Mrs Kirk said the funding would provide several benefits both for and beyond the project.
She said at face level, the funding would allow the schools precinct to be completed, and give students more opportunities from when they moved onto the new campus in 2022.
"From a philosophical perspective, it's wonderful for the kids to feel valued," she said.
Mrs Kirk said the new facilities would also help attract and retain professionals to the region.
The project will also have personal benefits for Mrs Kirk's family.
One daughter, Abbey, is in year seven at Warracknabeal Secondary College. Another daughter, Darcy, in grade four at Warracknabeal Primary School.
"I didn't think my big girl would see any of the new school," Mrs Kirk said. "I can't articulate how great it is."
Mrs Kirk said the half-completed project had left the schools at different points.
The secondary and primary schools still operate from their old buildings.
Mrs Kirk said these were both due to be demolished in 2018.
"The secondary college especially has walls where, if you gave them a shove, you'd knock them over," she said.
"The equipment's really old and everything's dilapidated."
She said a state-of-the-art science room at the precinct was being used for storage because it was too impractical to have the students attend the site for lessons.
Mrs Kirk said the primary school's roof leaked if it rained too much.
She recounted a time when Darcy was in grade two and the rain came in through the lights.
Buckets filled the classroom and were inevitably accidentally knocked over by students.
"It's hard enough to put one person in a room with 20 kids and say 'teach them', let alone under those circumstances," Mrs Kirk said.
She said the special developmental school was at the other end of the spectrum, where it was half-completed but still needed another building.
"They had to reduce some classes to cope because they've only got one-third of the space," she said.
Mrs Kirk said the functioning parts of the new school were spectacular.
She said the school moved away from a "one size fits all" approach to education and included a sensory room and modern and interactive features.
"It's an opportunity for students to be their best selves," she said.
Mrs Kirk said the new funding would help put all the pieces together and allow all students to benefit.
"When you watch a good movie and they tie up the loose ends - that's what it's going to be like," she said.
Mrs Kirk thanked everyone who pushed to make sure the precinct happened.
So excited that today’s $2.7 billion Building Works package includes $19.8 million for Warracknabeal Education Precinct— Jaala Pulford MP (@JaalaPulford) May 17, 2020
Can’t wait to be back there and see this project finished
🙏🏻 @karlydkirk, @yarriambiack, principals, teachers, staff and local families at three schools 😊
She highlighted the efforts of Ms Pulford and Western Victoria MP Stuart Grimley.
"The Finish What You Started group were the noisy ones, but so many people helped us along the way," she said.
"It all came together in this perfect storm.
"We're happy and grateful - it's so much more than just an education facility. It's the impact it has on the perception the community has of itself."