Big task for schools' board

CATHERINE HEALY
Last updated 05:00 22/04/2011

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The team in charge of setting up Hobsonville Point's two new schools have a big job ahead.

In just less than two years they will oversee the transformation of undeveloped land into a functioning primary school designed to teach up to 690 year 1 to 8 students.

Hobsonville Point Primary School will open in 2013. The nearby Hobsonville Point Secondary School will open for year 9 students in 2014, eventually accommodating 1500 pupils.

Alan Curtis is the chairman of the establishment board that will oversee the set-up of the schools on the old airbase site. It will later hand over the reins to an elected board of trustees.

Mr Curtis is the chairman of Westlake Girls High School board of trustees and has also served on other school boards.

The Hobsonville schools are the first in New Zealand to be constructed with private money. They will be designed, financed and built under a private-public partnership and the government is seeking expressions of interest.

The buildings will be managed by the private partner for 25 years before going back to the Crown.

Mr Curtis says property issues often take up a lot of a board's time so the public-private funding arrangement for the new schools will remove that problem.

"I'm glad that property is not going to be on the board of trustees' agenda every month as it is for every other school in New Zealand. It just wastes their time.

"The arrangement means the schools can focus on student achievement."

The board's most significant task will be appointing a principal and Mr Curtis says that process will begin soon.

"It's the most important thing that any school board can do."

The Hobsonville Point houses that will ultimately be the home of the school community are still being built, so exactly who will make up the schools' parent community remains to be seen.

However the establishment board intends to consult the wider community during the set-up process, as well as schools that might feed into the secondary school.

"There will be public meetings. Everyone will get an opportunity to have their input."

Mr Curtis says the ministry is working to appoint a project facilitator. Once that person is in place the establishment board will have a project plan and dates to work to.

The other establishment board members are Auckland University school of education lecturer Te Rongopai Morehu, former teacher Shelley Robb, Albany Senior High School business manager Christine Routledge and Community Waitakere board member and council planner Andrew Wood.

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