Autism school project shortfall

MAITLAND MP Robyn Parker has told the Minister for Disability to bring his chequebook when he visits the new autism school at Thornton after the project fell half a million dollars short.

Construction is finished on the dedicated Autism Spectrum Australia school but money is still needed to fit out its specialist early intervention centre.

Administration staff will move in this week with students to follow next month.

The school was built thanks to benefactors Richard Owens and Hilton Grugeon as well as the federal government’s Building Education Revolution.

Mr Owens and Mr Grugeon came to the rescue after the Newcastle Herald reported in 2010 the school had to leave its Shortland Public School base because of its growth.

It had been temporarily housed at Gateshead West Public School since then.

The Owens family donated the land and Mr Grugeon, whose son has Asperger’s, has donated construction labour and material.

Volunteer groups such as The Men’s Shed have also helped with construction.

The Hunter Aspect school caters for about 90 severely autistic students and prepares many for mainstream classrooms.

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