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Parents in dark over closure request

JARED NICOLL
Last updated 12:00 13/09/2012

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The Koromiko School board chairman wrote to the Education Ministry asking it to close the school before the idea was discussed with parents, the Marlborough Express has discovered.

Board chairman Simon Tripe wrote the letter on June 5, the ministry received it the next day, and parents were not told until a meeting was held at the school on June 7.

The letter has been provided to the Express under the Official Information Act.

Mr Tripe said yesterday he did not think it was odd to tell the parents after the request was made.

"There wasn't the need because there would be a consultation process after."

Koromiko School parent Rick Ireland, who has one daughter at the school and another enrolled to start next year, said some parents were shocked when they found out the board they had elected had failed to tell them they wanted to close the school.

"No-one knew what had happened and the whole thing just swung into them out of the blue."

The Ministry of Education received five submissions from people at the end of August regarding the possible closure of the school and these will go into a report for education minister Hekia Parata to review before making a decision on the school's future.

Ms Parata is expected to make her decision by the end of October which could see the school shut by the end of the year.

Its roll was expected to drop from 18 to 14 students next year and would need about 26 to maintain its funding for two teachers.

The board's letter said it regretted asking the ministry to close the school, but it was worried education levels would drop if the school was reduced to a sole-charge teaching position.

The letter stated that: "We are not confident we will be able to continue to deliver the high quality of education under these circumstances and meet the needs of all our children."

Ministry of Education Nelson, Marlborough and West Coast education and performance manager Phil Sharpin said he received five submissions regarding the possible closure of the school and his office was in the process of compiling a report for the minister.

Email correspondence, also released under the Official Information Act, showed someone from the ministry wrote to Koromiko School principal Karen O'Donnell on June 11 and stated that, "It is up to [Education Minister Hekia Parata] to make the final decision which we would hope to have by September or October."

The sender's name was erased to "protect the political neutrality of officials".

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- The Marlborough Express

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