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School closure decisions causing heartbreak, anger (+ FULL LIST)

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Latest Education News | Monday February 18 2013 10:58

School closure decisions causing heartbreak, anger (+ FULL LIST)

Education Minister Hekia Parata has announced about a third of the proposals for Christchurch schools will not be going ahead.

She has announced interim decisions for 31 of the 38 schools affected by the Government's Education Renewal Plans.

12 schools that were originally proposed to close will remain open.

Seven others will close, affecting 670 students and another 12 will merge to create six new schools.

Ministry of Education staff met with affected schools this morning, and Ms Parata made a formal announcement at midday.

Ms Parata says the changes will serve the community for many years to come.

"At the end of this process, Christchurch, Selwyn and Waimakariri will have one of the best and most modern schooling networks in the country."

The Minister says the fact 12 schools originally slated for closure or merger will stay, shows consultation with the education sector in Christchurch was genuine.

Hekia Parata says through their submissions some schools proved aspects of the proposals were flawed

"We know that there were three items of error in the original announcements and we have worked alongside schools because we want the right information and within that we have the specific submissions of the schools and some of their ideas were better than ours."

 

Phillipstown School in Christchurch was the first to confirm it has been told it will close at its current site.

Principal Tony Simpson briefed his staff on the Ministry of Education's decision that the school will merge with Woolston School, at the Woolston site in January next year.

The Ministry will also appoint its own Board of Trustees at the merged school.

Mr Simpson says he is absolutely gutted.

"The worst possible news that a happy, successful, safe school could ever hear - that the minister basically doesn't believe in us.

"That's what we were told."

Tony Simpson says his staff are in tears.

A prominent member of the Phillipstown community says the decision to close the local school is going to have huge ramifications for the area.

Wayne Hawker is the deputy chair of the schools board of trustees and chair of the local community centre.

He says it's a poor area and parents will struggle to get their kids as far as Woolston especially since a lot of families in Phillipstown struggle to have a car.

"Without the school, you do not have a community centre and without the school you do have our community."

 

Branston Intermediate will also close at the end of this year.

A posting on its website says the interim decision breaks the assurance the Ministry gave the school that children who enrolled this year could stay through to the end of 2014.

A community meeting is being held this afternoon to decide the next steps for the school.

Principal Jennifer O'Leary says the school will shut its doors a whole 12 months sooner than what they were told.

"I am furious because we were proposed to close at the end of next year, but they've brought it forward to close at the end of this year."

One parent Penny Osborne says she's shocked at today's news and so is her son.

"Year 7 started this year on the assumption that he would be there for the full two years, now we don't know what we're going to do. We're going to fight, help Branston fight to keep open."

One student says many of his friends cried when they were told.

"Really sad because most of our parents came to Branston so now all of our younger friends can't come here."

 

Central New Brighton School in Christchurch is shocked it will have to merge two years earlier than told.

The school in the east of the city will join with New Brighton South in January.

Central principal Toni Burnside says the initial proposal released in September states any merger wouldn't happen until 2016.

"I've got a classroom full of five-year-olds who we've enrolled with the knowledge that we had a school for the next three years."

Toni Burnside says they never expected to merge to be so soon.

"The gutting part of the decision is that she's brought the date forward. In September we had a letter saying it would be 2016, she now tells me it's going to be January next year."

 

Manning Intermediate is also on the list to close in Christchurch.

The Ministry of Education has told the staff there it is looking at two options for the school, but either way it will have to shut its doors.

One option is to keep the school open until January 2015, or to close it sooner if Hillmorton High School is expanded into a year seven-to-13 school.

Principal Richard Chambers says the news has come as a shock.

"I don't think anybody expected that.

"We were given clear, categorical statements [as to] what the potential timeframes were, then to have those altered potentially is a real shock."

 

Another school to be closed is Kendal School.

In a statement on the school's website, principal Keith Turner says they are planning to appeal the interim decision "vigorously", and are holding a meeting tomorrow night to plan their next move.

 

Burnside Primary has been told it will stay open and be rebuilt, even though it had been earmarked for closure.

Shirley Intermediate principal Geoff Siave says they too have been told they will remain open, which is great news.

"A big sigh of relief, a big celebration for all of us, but we are all really feeling for our colleagues."

Linwood Avenue School in Christchurch has also been given good news 

It will not be merging with Bromley School as was originally proposed. Another winner this morning include Banks Avenue School - it has been told it will remain open, becoming a year 1-8 school and will be rebuilt on a new site, which is yet to be decided.

 

Linwood principal Gerard Direen says while they can remain, it's still been a hard situation to go through.

"There'll be a lot of relieved people from our point of view but as I say, it's something that should never have happened. The thinking the decision making behind it was really flawed. I'm still not happy that our community was put through this."

Ouruhia Model School in Christchurch is to stay open but it will be relocated, in a move to better serve population needs.

The relocation will not be happening anytime soon though - it will be in around five years time.

There was relief and joy from the community as Principal Mark Ashmore-Smith delivered the good news that the school is remaining open.

Mr Ashmore-Smith says it means they'll just be able to get on with the year.

"I can almost wind back the clock now to September and think 'okay, let's get back on the track that we were on in September and get on with our literacy programme that we were doing then'. We've got a year without the distractions now so we can get on with it."

In mergers, former central city-based special character schools Unlimited and Discovery 1 are to merge.

The schools both supported the proposal so are pleased with the interim decision.

Unlimited board spokesperson Vicki Buck says they're delighted.

"Both communities supported that.

"We've consulted very widely with students and parents, with staff and with the whole community, and we're in support of it.

"We just want it to happen as fast as possible so we can get back into town."

Vicki Buck says they will need to find a new name and a new site.

The schools will merge on January of next year.

Schools in Lyttelton are to merge as well, with Lyttelton Main School joining Lyttelton West School.

Lyttelton Main School principal Sue Wells says they have always been comfortable with the merger, but the timeframe of it has come as a huge shock and is much sooner than told.

Central New Brighton School has been told it will merge with New Brighton South in January.

Principal Toni Burnside says they are devastated.

"I've got staff all over the place crying their eyes out, I've got the caretaker crying, I've got support staff, parents coming down at 12 to support their children.

"They'll be devastated - we're a school of choice for our children."

North New Brighton and Freeville Schools are also merging.

Confirmed school closures

  • Branston Intermediate - to close at the end of this year.
  • Glenmoor Primary School.
  • Greenpark School.
  • Kendal School - plan to appeal the decision "vigourously."
  • Linwood Intermediate.
  • Manning Intermediate - will close in either 2015, or sooner if Hillmorton High expands to years seven to 13.
  • Richmond School.

Confirmed mergers

  • Burwood School and Windsor School.
  • Central New Brighton School and North New Brighton South School - will merge in January.
  • Lyttelton Main School and Lyttelton West School.
  • North New Brighton School and Freeville School.
  • Phillipstown School and Woolston School - will merge on the Woolston site in January next year.
  • Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti and Discovery 1 - the special character schools will move to a single CBD site.

Schools that will stay open

  • Banks Avenue School - to be rebuilt on a new site as a year one to eight school.
  • Bromley School
  • Burnside Primary School - will be rebuilt and reopen, despite being told last year it will close.
  • Duvauchelle School.
  • Gilberthorpe School.
  • Linwood Avenue School - it will not merge with Bromley School as was proposed.
  • Okains Bay School.
  • Ouruhia Model School.
  • Shirley Intermediate - it was also earmarked for closure, but will remain open.
  • Te Kura Kaupapa o Waitaha.
  • Te Kura Kaupapa o Te Whanau Tahi.
  • Yaldhurst Model School.

Photo: Getty Images

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