Site for new school at Lake Cathie

LAKE Cathie’s long-awaited public school will be built south of the village.

Yesterday’s announcement follows the June State Budget, which contained money for six new schools including Lake Cathie.

The school will be built on the eastern side of Ocean Drive, just south of the Houston Mitchell Drive intersection, within a planned new urban site known as Area 14. The Department of Education and Communities has reached an agreement to buy the 3.55ha site earmarked for the school.

Leslie Williams, now Port Macquarie MP, became active in politics to secure a public school for the town. Her campaign involvement dates back 14 years, while a group of parents were pushing for a school as early as the 1980s.

It is expected the school will open with 180 students and numbers will swell to 300 within a few years.

Mrs Williams said parents had recognised the need for a public school within the growing community: “I think it’s also a drawcard for parents to come to a community that has a local public school,” she said, adding hundreds of students would not need to catch buses every day to schools north and south of the town.

“IT’S a bit overwhelming to think about today and imagine what it will look like on the first day of school in 2015,” Mrs Williams said.

Mother-of-two Kate Perkins said the school had been needed for a long time: “I think it will be fantastic to have something local for our children,” the early childhood teacher said.

“We’ve never had that [school] option here before.

“I grew up in Cathie, caught the school bus and it was a two-hour round trip each day to Port Mac­quarie,” she said.

Lake Cathie’s Kate Coghlan, who has three children, said it would be lovely for her youngest child, seven-month-old Tess, to attend the new school if the timing worked.

“In essence, it would make life simple,” Ms Coghlan said.

The school is on track to open for the first term of 2015.

There will be community meetings to discuss the school’s ethos, values and student welfare needs. 

Department of Education and Communities acting regional director Mark Youngblutt said this was an opportunity to start the school with a new vision that met community needs.

Concept designs are underway.

“Key in our consideration is safe access to the site, aspect of the classrooms, making use of the topography to provide flat playing surfaces, and ease of access to classrooms by all students,” Mr Youngblutt said.

The department-owned land at the corner of Ocean Drive and Fiona Crescent will be sold in accordance with NSW Treasury guidelines.

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