Limited response to school submissions

GERMARI HERSELMAN
Last updated 09:23 16/07/2014

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Education leaders in Marlborough are not concerned by a lack of community support for a consultation process to determine the future of secondary education in Blenheim.

With only two weeks left until the deadline, fewer than 200 people have made a submission on changing the delivery of education in the region's biggest town.

The Express took to the streets of Blenheim yesterday to gauge public opinion on the process and to see if people had received enough information to make a submission.

However, almost half of the 50 people spoken to were either not interested in the consultation or did not wish to discuss it.

Some said they did not want to spend time getting involved, others thought those leading the consultation would make the right decision.

Marlborough Girls' College principal Karen Stewart said she was not concerned as she was getting a lot of positive feedback.

"I'd like to think that there has been a lot of information out there to encourage parents to get involved and make submissions," she said.

Stewart thought the 173 submissions received so far was a good start, especially compared with the first round of consultation when most of the 357 submissions came in at the end, she said.

A meeting was held on July 2 to discuss three options for secondary education in Blenheim. The options were: two colleges side-by-side on one site, with the option of a tertiary addition, costing $51.5 million; retaining and maintaining existing colleges costing $10.8m; and a co-educational college costing $52.6m, excluding land costs.

Both colleges require significant repairs because of age, earthquake risk and leaky buildings.

This prompted the ministry to begin consultation to see what people wanted before spending large amounts repairing existing buildings.

Marlborough Boys' College principal Wayne Hegarty also thought 173 submissions was a good start, but said he would still like to see more people come forward.

Hegarty hoped the thousands of parents with primary school-aged children and younger would all make a submission as, he said, it affected them most.

Consultation facilitator Janet Kelly said 169 of the 173 submissions were made online using the new online survey that took parents only a few minutes to complete, depending on how much information they wanted to include.

‘We wanted to make it easier for the community to get involved, with the hope to have a lot more submissions than in the first round of consultation," she said.

Kelly said that there were only four hard copy submissions did not surprise her.

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The community has until July 30 to choose among the three options identified by the ministry. Submissions can be made online at surveymonkey.com/s/MarlboroughOptionsSurvey2014, emailed to janet.kelly@xtra.co.nz, or posted to: Janet Kelly, 31 Courtney St, Motueka 7120.

- The Marlborough Express

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