School location debate must wait

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 09:16 25/08/2014
Wayne Hegarty
DEREK FLYNN/FAIRFAX MEDIA
POINT MADE: Marlborough Boys' College principal Wayne Hegarty is pleased the report mentioned the need for a site of size.

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The Education Minister will not make a decision on secondary schooling in Blenheim until after the election, the ministry says.

Over the past year, the Government has been consulting with the community over the future shape of secondary schooling in Blenheim. Both Marlborough Boys' College and Marlborough Girls' College need millions of dollars of work on their buildings, and the Government had proposed merging the two schools into a single co-educational school.

The boards of both colleges met facilitator Janet Kelly last week to finalise her report to the Government.

Kelly said the findings had not changed since her first draft. The community's preferred option was to co-locate the two schools on the same green fields site.

A new site was needed with enough space to house all the students. The community did not want to merge the schools on either of the existing college sites.

She said her final report would go to the ministry in the next few days.

Ministry head of sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said the ministry expected to receive Kelly's report on Friday.

"When we receive the report we will undertake some analysis and follow-up regarding information or issues outlined in the report. We will then prepare a report, to go to the minister alongside Janet's report... at the end of September or early October."

Marlborough Boys' College principal Wayne Hegarty said he was pleased with the reference in the report to the need for a site of size.

"That point had not been lost on our community."

Marlborough Girls' College principal Karen Stewart could not be contacted.

The Government proposed merging the two colleges late last year, and there have been two rounds of public consultation.

The Blenheim community did not want to merge the schools, preferring instead to have them located side-by-side on a new site.

It was felt the girls' college site in Springlands was too small for two schools, with the requirement for extra sports fields.

The boys' college site near central Blenheim was also too small.

Various sites have been floated, including the privately-owned racecourse land in Springlands, or private land in Burleigh or St Andrews. It is understood the Marlborough District Council is working with the ministry to identify suitable land around Blenheim.

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- The Marlborough Express

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