Northern Grampians Shire Council is pleased to be working with the Victorian Government to support the Best Start, Best Life initiative to provide free kindergarten to three- and four-year-olds in the community.
To give Victorian children the best start in life, Four-Year-Old Kindergarten will gradually transition to Pre-Prep over the next decade. Pre-Prep, like all early childhood education and care, will provide greater opportunities for children to develop the critical foundational skills for their learning and development in the year before school.
The roll-out of the Pre-Prep program has been scheduled for gradual introduction across the state and Northern Grampians Shire has been selected by the Victorian Government as a priority location for the initial roll-out of the program. This means that our shire will benefit before most other parts of the state and that children in St Arnaud will soon be eligible for up to 30 hours of free Pre-Prep per week.
You can find out more information about the Pre-Prep Program here.
As Northern Grampians Shire Council manages the St Arnaud Early Learning Centre, providing both long day care and sessional kindergarten, the council has been allocated responsibility to provide Pre-Prep. As the current facilities are not large enough to accommodate the extra space required for 30 hours of Pre-Prep, a suitable location for a new government-funded building is needed.
The Victorian Schools Building Authority (VSBA) is the entity responsible for providing a suitable building and a preferred location. The VSBA proposed that the modular building be located adjacent to the St Arnaud Primary School on Crown land currently managed by the council. The site is a suggestion, is subject to investigations, and needs approval from the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action.
Northern Grampians Shire Council has proposed three additional locations at Market Square for consideration. All four options have been selected based on practicality and do not require re-zoning of the land. These sites are suggestions and are subject to further investigations, such as engineering assessments.
The opinions of the community are important and will be one of the factors that influence the final decision about the location. Between 5 and 18 April residents were able to provide an opinion by:
- Attending an informative engagement event on 5 April at Market Square.
- Visiting the static display at the St Arnaud Town Hall, the St Arnaud Library, or in the window of Betta Home Living and completing the survey.
- Completing the survey via link on this page.
Community engagement is now complete. Thank you to everyone who has taken part in the survey and provided feedback.
Decision - Council at the 22 May Unscheduled Council Meeting approved Option 4 for the construction of the modular building to accommodation Kindergarten and Pre-Prep in St Arnaud at Market Square car park, adjacent to the existing Early Learning Centre building.
- Links the new modular building to the existing ELC building
- Entry to the modular links to the existing ELC entry
- No reduction in open space park area
- Entry to car park one way via Market Street.
- Will require removal of some trees in the car park
- Path to be installed to link town hall to modular entrance
- Car parks in Walker Street to be linked to town hall via a path
- Additional parking to be created in Walker Street, Market Street and Golden Street
- Bus stop to be re-located to Golden Street.