The rebuild of Halswell School will begin within months.
The redevelopment has been one of the few positive announcements to come out of the Government's shake-up of education in Canterbury.
But the school's celebrations have been muted, given the 13 school closures and 18 mergers proposed across the region.
"It was a very tempered celebration because we felt for those other communities and their families, but in saying that we had a sigh of relief that finally we're making progress," Halswell School principal Bruce Topham said.
He has been waiting to hear about the school's future after it was severely damaged in the September 2010 quake.
Ten classrooms were demolished, leaving just five usable. Ten relocatable classrooms were put on the site, and pupils and teachers have been operating from them since.
The hall has also been out of action.
Topham said the school realised after the February 2011 quake that the chances of getting a quick rebuild were remote.
He was not sure when the rebuild would be finished, but he hoped it would be in time to celebrate the school's 150th anniversary in 2014.
An Education Ministry spokesman said consultants would be engaged to begin design work as the first step in project planning with a view to physical work beginning early next year.
The school would be rebuilt on its existing site, the spokesman said.
He would not say when the rebuild would be finished or how much the ministry intended to spend on the rebuild. Topham said he would meet ministry officials this week.
He hoped the school would have some input into the final design because he had spent the past 18 months researching and visiting new schools.
The school's roll was about 560, about 100 fewer students than before the quakes.
Topham said he expected the roll to grow, given the number of housing developments in the area.
See what readers think of the Government's plan to overhaul education in Canterbury in tomorrow's Press.
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