Ex-students fighting to retain school site

Karla Ackerley, pictured with Faith Ackerley, and Renee Wood have started a campaign encouraging the Education Department to take action on the former Colac High school site.

Karla Ackerley, pictured with Faith Ackerley, and Renee Wood have started a campaign encouraging the Education Department to take action on the former Colac High school site.

A GROUP of former Colac High School students have started a campaign calling for action at the former high school site.

The group started a Facebook page last week which received 500 “likes” within two days.

Former student Dani Chill said she decided to start the page after seeing photos of the school, which has deteriorated since the Victorian Department of Education shut the site in 2009.

Ms Chill graduated from the school in 1997 and has lived in Las Vegas, Nevada, America for 15 years.

But she said despite living “almost as far as she could” from the school she was still interested in ensuring the site had a positive future.

“Seeing the photos of the school just sparked some conversations with my fellow alumni who I’m still Facebook friends with,” Ms Chill said.

“I know there’s a lot of passionate people out there looking to get something done with the site,” she said.

“We started the group because we wanted to learn more about what was happening and get information about what’s going on.

“There’s so much information out there about the site we wanted to bring together.”

Ms Chill said the group was interested in looking towards the future and since starting the page last week she and the group had been in contact with the Department of Education.

“We know the Department of Education want it to be rezoned so it can be private land, but we want it to remain for public use,” she said.

“We’re trying to get the land evaluated so we can actually know what that land is actually valued as and that will help us know what we can actually do with it.”

Colac Otway Shire Council has asked the Department of Education to gift the shire 30 per cent of the land.

The council hope to secure the north side of the land and use the area as open space.

Mayor Frank Buchanan said the department informed council in August that the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development planned to “dispose” of the Colac High site along with former school sites at Swan Marsh and Cressy.

“The DEECD floated the idea that it might be possible for council to receive a public open space contribution for all three properties as part of any future rezoning process, with the contribution to be based in Colac,” Cr Buchanan said.

He said the council also asked the State Government to help the Colac Woodturners and Woodcrafters Guild find a permanent site; the guild uses the former woodwork area of the school site.

“We hope to work with the State Government and the woodturners to find a suitable alternative location for the group,” Cr Buchanan said.

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