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Rebuild delays frustrate Western Springs College community

ROSE CAWLEY
Last updated 05:00 15/08/2014
Gordon Ikin
Rose Cawley
FRUSTRATED PARENT: Gordon Ikin says parents are not going to stand for the lack of action on a school rebuild at Western Springs College.

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Empty promises and wasted time have pushed parents at Western Springs College to breaking point.

And the announcement by associate education minister Nikki Kaye to channel $350 million into Auckland school buildings is not calming parents' concerns.

The decile eight school was built on a restored landfill site in 1963 but the land and buildings have caused headaches ever since.

Talk of a school rebuild began about 2011. A master plan was completed and detailed planning done.

But still there is no new school.

Parent and former board of trustees chairman Gordon Ikin says the "angry and fed-up" community wants real action.

"Parents are cynical about the announcement. We already knew money was going to have to be spent," the father of two said.

"It is really a question of, is the school going to have a patch up job or is it going to be rebuilt? And is it going to be rebuilt on the current site or is it going to go somewhere else?"

He said parents' concerns are building momentum but the ministry's commitment and a solid timeline need to be established.

"There is a real undercurrent of tension and unease around it.

"People are feeling really pissed off now, there are a lot of unhappy parents," he said.

"It is time the government comes clean and gets onto it really quickly."

He said it's not a political issue.

"It doesn't matter which party is in government, this thing has to be done and I think the politicians have agreed there."

Associate education minister Nikki Kaye announced on Tuesday that National will invest at least $350m over the next four years to build new schools and classrooms in Auckland.

The Auckland Central MP said up to eight schools in the region are going to require major redevelopments or reconstructions.

And one of the "first cabs off the rank" will be Western Springs College, along with Southern Cross Campus in Mangere East and Sherwood Primary in Browns Bay.

"We have identified these three at the outset due to their locations in high growth areas, the need to provide certainty to their school communities, and because of the complexities facing each project."

Principal Ken Havill said it is understandable that parents have become frustrated.

"Anxieties have resulted following being told that final decisions will be made by the government after the election," he said.

"I remain confident that the redevelopment needs of the school will not be put aside."

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He said the complex site has caused problems.

"There has been a long drawn-out master-planning process as a direct result of these site-specific difficulties.

"There has been no modernisation funding since 2010, so the plant is inevitably showing signs of this." he said.

- Auckland City Harbour News

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