New education minister Nikki Kaye pledges more Havelock North classrooms by end of year
Havelock North's bulging primary schools have been told the Government will deliver on an earlier promise to provide them with new classrooms by the end of the year.
The town's three state primary schools have been under pressure with growing rolls, and the Government has previously said it would spend about $3.9 million on eight new classrooms in the area.
On Tuesday newly appointed Education Minister Nikki Kaye said she had met with principals of the three schools – Havelock North, Te Mata and Lucknow primaries – and had "acknowledged concerns around the pace of delivery of some of the new classrooms".
Havelock North Primary is awaiting four new classrooms which Kaye said were on track to be delivered by October.
Lucknow and Te Mata are each due to receive two new classrooms by December.
Labour's Tukituki candidate, Anna Lorck, said delays building the classrooms compounded the Government's embarrassment after it previously reneged on a promise to build a new primary school in Havelock North.
She said the new classrooms, first promised almost a year ago, were a "disappointing compensation package" in lieu of the new school, and the Government had previously said they would be built by now.
Kaye said the Ministry of Education would work with schools and the community to develop an "area strategy" to identify longer-term education needs in Havelock North and Hastings.
"The area strategy will consider medium and long-term population growth, as well as how the existing network of schools could accommodate this growth," she said.
"It will also consider the school property requirements needed to support a quality education network for the local community."
While the "key work" on the strategy would not happen until next year, the eight new classrooms promised this year would help address Havelock North's growing rolls, she said.
The town's schooling frustration have been compounded by controversy over a property initially earmarked as the site for a fourth school but which is now being sold by the government.
The Ministry of Education rejected the option of using the Arataki Rd site for a new primary school, deciding instead that it would become the new home for an expanding Hastings Maori language immersion school, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Wananga Whare Tapere o Takitimu.
But last year the ministry had a change of heart, deciding the site was "not suitable for educational purposes" because of odour issue from a nearby mushroom farm.
Kaye said a preferred new site has been identified for the Hastings kura and due diligence was being carried out.