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School begins rebuild

LAUREN PRIESTLEY
Last updated 05:00 07/05/2014
Sheryl Fletcher
Lauren Priestley
CHANGE COMING: Bayfield School principal Sheryl Fletcher says the school will have to adapt after the rebuild.

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The leaky building saga is far from over - and it's not just homeowners who are taking the hit.

Schools are suffering too.

Numbers obtained by Fairfax under the Official Information Act show 27 schools in central Auckland funded by the Ministry of Education are affected by weather-tightness issues.

Repairs will cost the ministry an estimated $26 million, only a drop in the ocean compared to the predicted $1.5 billion required nationwide.

The 128-year-old Bayfield School in the suburb of Herne Bay  is having 70 per cent of its buildings rebuilt and work started on April 17. Principal Sheryl Fletcher says classrooms and the library, computer and staff rooms are all part of the year-long project.

"It's like building a plane while flying it," Fletcher says.

The hall is also leaky and is next on the list.

"It's our main building so it's sort of the hub of the school. It's really quite challenging for a school."

Bayfield's 12-year-old buildings were leaky and cold with damp patches on the walls and ceilings on rainy days.

The building won a design award when it was first built but did not last well, Fletcher says.

There are mixed feelings about the rebuild, she says.

"A lot of people who have been here a long time were really attached to the old building. But it was damp and it wasn't extremely safe health-wise so we're welcoming the fact that we're getting a dry and safe building.

"Change is always hard."

Half of Bayfield's playing field is covered in prefabricated classrooms while the new two-storey building is being built.

The new structure will house 12 classrooms - five more than what the school is losing from the old building. This means growing the roll or expanding the zone of the small school might be on the cards.

"Bayfield is like a country school in the city. It's quite a small school for Auckland standards and it's very community based."

It will also mean a serious difference in the way the school operates.

The new building has been designed for modern learning environments, meaning each room will have three to four classes taught in it.

It will take some adjusting, Fletcher says.

"It's a big open space designed for collaborative teaching and learning.

"It's definitely different for us. We're on a journey to find out more about it and how we're going to make it work."

The Ministry of Education established a Building Improvement Programme in 2009 and has committed $200 million to the project to date. It affects 1500 buildings nationwide.

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Ministry of Education infrastructure service spokeswoman Kim Shannon says the programme, currently in its fifth year of a 10 to 15 year plan, is going well.

"Depending on the severity of weather-tightness issues, buildings included are either rebuilt or repaired on a like-for-like basis. In either case, students and teaching staff benefit from being able to learn and teach in safe and healthy learning environments."

- Auckland City Harbour News

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