The state government will build a new Wee Waa High School after the old site was laden with mould, the education minister announced on Thursday.
Students were driven out of the town's old high school in late 2020 after many fell ill from a mould-related illness.
Education Minister Sarah Mitchell announced on Thursday that the government will build a new school on an entirely new site immediately next to the town's public school.
She estimated students would attend their first classes by the end of 2022.
A drain runs through the middle of the grassed Mitchell Street site.
Ms Mitchell said government had taken steps to make sure the new school would not have the same health problems as the old one.
"Wee Waa is a town that floods and we need to make sure that wherever we build we build appropriately so that we don't have issues with moisture and drainage," she said.
"But I've had assurances from engineers who are working closely with us on this, geotechnical engineers, that we can put the appropriate draining in and also our modern methods of construction, we can build in a way that has no issue with moisture."
Member for Barwon Roy Butler said locals refer to the new site as "the swamp" and that during periods of heavy rain water runs through the property.
"In a community meeting that I held earlier in the year with Mark Banasiak, one of out upper house members, community members were very concerned about site selection,
"We wrote to the minister on that and we received an assurance that there would be transparency and engagement, that site selection would be something discussed with the community. We've seen no evidence that that's happened."
He said the Wee Waa community is concerned the new site could be affected by the same health problems as the old one.
"If we've had problems with a mould-like substance in the old site, we want to avoid any problems like that in the new site," he said.
Ms Mitchell said the old site has a stigma attached, and the new one has educational benefits.
"There is just that community sentiment that nobody wants to go back there, I think there is concern about what had gone on and that's something that I share. So really that wasn't a viable option," she said.
"We did look at a few others, but the reason that is a preferred site really is the proximity there to the primary school, we think that will be good for the local community to have a bit of an education centre here in Wee Waa."
Ms Mitchell said the government would use "fast-track methods when it comes to planning but also construction to get the school built as quickly as possible".
"It's been a tough time but we now have a light at the end of the tunnel and I think the silver lining is that we're going to end up with a brand new multi-million dollar high school here in Wee Waa that is fit for purpose and ready to give students the very best learning environment both now and into the future," she said.
Narrabri mayor Ron Campbell said he was impressed with the way government had acted with regard to the issues at the old school.
"This has got to be a record time. I've heard from people around Sarah that she was just banging on the Treasurer's door just about every day to get this through and ensure that this would happen for our community," he said.
"It's been a tough time for [the students], it's been a tough time for the teachers but at the end of the day we have a result and it's a fantastic result."
Ms Mitchell said government wasn't sure what to do with the contaminated historic site, which was built in 1977. The state government has allocated money for dealing with the old site, she said.
"We have got contingency in the budget for what we need to do there. That will be part of the process that we work through with the local community," she said.
"No concrete decision has been made yet, that will happen as part of the process."
Ms Mitchell said the exact cost of the upgrade is commercial-in-confidence, but estimated the cost in the tens of millions of dollars.
Investigations to identify the cause of the illness will continue, she said.
Wee Waa High School Principal Annabel Doust said she was confident the students could continue learning at the new school without any further health problems, until the new school is completed.
"The facilities we've been provided with here are extremely satisfactory and that's probably understating it," she said.
"Some of our facilities here are better than they were in the old school. Kids are quite happy in those classrooms, we're very well-equipped with technology."
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