New classrooms built at school destined to merge

TINA LAW
Last updated 05:00 29/01/2013

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Two new classrooms are being built at Woolston School and more are planned despite the Government proposing to merge the school on another site.

The school roll is growing quickly as families from overseas and throughout New Zealand move to Christchurch to help with the rebuild.

Principal Janeane Reid said about 30 new pupils were due to start on Monday, including 12 new entrants - double the usual number.

The school had enrolled children from Ireland, Invercargill and Dunedin whose families had relocated to help with the rebuild, she said.

The school ended last year with 265 pupils, up from 180 before the February 2011 earthquake.

Reid said she would usually expect to start the year with lower numbers after losing all the year 8s to secondary school, but this year about 270 pupils would start.

She expected the roll to grow to well over 300 by the end of the year.

The two new classrooms, costing $350,000, were approved last year, and Reid yesterday met Ministry of Education officials, who said the school would be entitled to another two classrooms this year because of the roll growth.

However, Reid said the funding for those classrooms had yet to be approved.

The two classrooms under construction will be finished by March 24.

One class would start the year in the library because there was not enough room to accommodate the children, Reid said.

The building has gone ahead despite the Government proposing in September to merge Woolston School with Phillipstown School at the Linwood College site in Aldwins Rd.

It has been proposed to move Linwood College to its lower fields in Ferry Rd, directly across from Woolston School, and to turn Woolston School into a technology centre.

Reid said the roll growth did not protect the school from a possible merger, but she believed it would be a "bizarre" decision to move Woolston School to a new location when so much building had gone on in recent years.

About $1.3 million was spent building four state-of-the-art classrooms and an administration block at Woolston School two years ago.

Ministry of Education policy manager Jerome Sheppard said there was an emerging need to provide additional teaching space at Woolston School.

The new buildings were relocatables that could be used elsewhere if required, Sheppard said.

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