School's in and we're digging it

Turning the earth: Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli, 5-year-old Charli Collins, Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams and Lelani Dietrich help turn the first sod at the new Lake Cathie School site.
Turning the earth: Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli, 5-year-old Charli Collins, Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams and Lelani Dietrich help turn the first sod at the new Lake Cathie School site.

LAKE Cathie's new $8.3 million school will be open for business on day one of term one 2015, with enrolments for the first intake of students open from Monday.

The first sod at the green field site on Ocean Drive was turned on Thursday by Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli, Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams and five-year-old Charli Collins who will be among the first students to attend the school when the doors open in less than 11 months.

The start of work on the site opposite the Houston Mitchell Drive intersection marks a significant achievement in the provision of state of the art education facilities for families south of Port Macquarie and is the culmination of more than 25 years of discussion, lobbying and planning by members of the community who pushed the project across the line.

The delivery of a school for the communities of Lake Cathie and Bonny Hills has been a key driver for Leslie Williams throughout her political career. She described the achievement as an unbelievable testament to the commitment and dedication of residents, many of whom formed part of the Future School Committee responsible for much of the project's planning.

"As far as I'm concerned, all of the work we have put in over the years is now all worth it," Mrs Williams said. "Next year, when the school opens for term one, day one, it will be an even more exciting day.

"I have long been a supporter of a school for the Lake Cathie and Bonny Hills area, and I thank Adrian Piccoli for his ongoing commitment to both this project and our community."

The construction contract has been awarded to local company AW Edwards and will equate to 50 jobs when work gets underway.

AW Edwards regional manager Kimbral Dunham said the school will be an exciting and challenging project to work on with civil works to commence mid-April. The school will have 10 classrooms, up to 20 teaching and administrative staff, a library, school hall, canteen and a capacity to enrol 250 students. Construction will also include an administration building, staff facilities, games and assembly courts, a covered outdoor learning area, sports fields and an expansive free play area.

Director of Public Schools NSW, Mark Youngblutt, said the selection process for the school's first principal will commence in April.

That process will be run in  conjunction with community engagement on what families want the facility to deliver when educating their children.

“This is a wonderful achievement for public education in the local area and will contribute to substantial growth in this community,” Mr Youngblutt said.

The school will fill kindergarten to year six classes in its first year with several of the area’s preschools thrilled their young charges can be prepared for big school in their home town.

Tracy Coman, director of Cowarra Park Preschool and Long Daycare Centre, will have 30 preschoolers ready by the end of the year.

“This is great for local families and the area in general,” Mrs Coman said “It will be a snowball effect for the entire community in terms of housing development and jobs.”

Minister Adrian Piccoli praised the persistent efforts of the Lake Cathie and Bonny Hills communities to make the school vision a reality.

“The community has advocated for a school in this area for many years now, and their work has shown their supportive nature,” Mr Piccoli said. “I am sure the hard work and determination of the community will serve the operation of the new school very well.”

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