A new $65 million super-school will be built in Armidale next year.
The Armidale Express can exclusively reveal, Duval and Armidale high schools will be demolished and replaced with a brand new, state-of-the-art high school for 1500 students.
The school will also include a 1000 seat, purpose-built, performing arts centre for education and community use.
The funding comes as part of the state government’s $4.2 billion public education infrastructure splurge, announced in Tuesday’s NSW budget.
Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall said the new school would be the best in regional NSW.
“[It] will have no peer in any educational sector, public, private or Catholic,” he said.
“Everything will be brand new, everything will be replaced, everything will be modern.
“Students will be learning in the most advanced learning environment anywhere outside of Sydney.”
The upgrades will include:
The new school, which is yet to be named, will be built on the current Armidale High School grounds.
Students from Armidale High will transition across to the Duval campus in 2019 during construction.
And then students and teachers from both schools will move into the new facility in 2021.
The Duval High School grounds will then be sold.
“It will be built on the existing Armidale High campus because it’s nearly 19 hectares in size, compared to Duval, which is only about five hectares,” Mr Marshall said.
The school is expected to offer students more subject choices and will have a performing arts focus.
“It will offer students almost every single subject across the stage 6 (year 11 and 12) HSC curriculum,” Mr Marshall said.
“It will have a strong focus on the performing arts, on music, on theater, that will add greatly to the school, but also the city and the Armidale region.
“I anticipate that we will attract students to the public system back from the independent system, back from the Catholic system, because we will have a premium education product which no one will be able to match, not just in Armidale, but anywhere throughout country NSW.”
A purpose built learning support unit will also be constructed and be the only one of its kind in the region.
“In this city, when this school is built, no other community will be able to match Armidale for its educational expertise and facilities,” Mr Marshall said.
The education department will appoint an officer to manage public consultation in the coming months.
And a dedicated unit will also be established in Armidale to manage the project.
Armidale finally has a purpose-built performing arts centre in the pipeline following Tuesday’s NSW budget announcement.
A 1000 seat, multi-purpose performing arts facility will be constructed within the Armidale High School grounds as part of a new $65 million school.
The announcement ends years of debate on the issue and also renders Armidale Regional Council’s NERAM cultural precinct redundant.
The facility will be the largest in the region, more than double the size of Tamworth’s Capitol Theatre.
“This will be a state-of-the-art facility in its own right,” Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall said.
“But to have it placed within the context of a high school … is absolutely amazing and something that even the vast majority of students in Sydney would not have access to.”
The centre will cater for theatre, opera, movies, and musical presentations, through to school assemblies and functions.
It will also be used as a conference centre and for large community events.
“At the moment, whenever we have a big event or a big show on, the only facility that’s able to be used is Lazenby Hall at UNE, which isn’t purpose built for those things,” Mr Marshall said.
“The new building will be used for performing arts groups, both within the school and community.
“But it will also double up as a wonderful conference facility for the city, something that the community has desperately needed for some time.”
Council administrator Ian Tiley has also welcomed the news.
“Today’s major announcement is absolutely fantastic for Armidale and the Region,” Dr Tiley said.
“One of the three pillars in Council’s economic development strategy is education.
“This huge project will substantially augment Armidale’s already high-class secondary education facilities - this is a win-win for education and the community.
“I warmly congratulate Hon Adam Marshall, our local MP, who fought hard to secure this project.
"His advocacy and persistence over recent months is to be applauded by the Armidale regional community.”
Council will also make a $1 million contribution to the project.
But has given its support contingent on the government delivering on its promises.
“I am pleased to make this commitment, which is an exceptionally cost effective in terms of securing the long desired performing arts centre,” Dr Tiley said.
“The commitment is conditional on there being a state government guarantee that the performing arts centre will be 1000 seat capacity and will always be available to the regional community for entertainment, performing arts, and conferencing.”
Construction on the new facility is expected to begin next year.
Armidale will receive a lion's share of the state government’s $4.2 billion education spend.
$65 million is slated for a new super-high school in the city.
An education department spokesman said regional centres like Guyra weren't expected to match the unprecedented explosion in student numbers expected in areas like Sydney and Wagga Wagga.
“The Department monitors population and development trends so that it can plan to meet enrollment needs in schools across NSW,” the spokesperson said.
“No public schools in the Glen Innes, Inverell, Tenterfield and Guyra areas are currently experiencing enrolments that are putting pressure on accommodation.”
But the country music capital’s windfall pales into insignificance compared to Armidale’s $65 million announcement.
NOTE: The state government originally provided the wrong dates for construction and moving. This story has been amended to reflect the change. Construction will begin in 2019 and students will move into the new school in 2021.
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