We can't sit on our hands

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 07:42 20/12/2013

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A Blenheim man has proposed moving Marlborough Girls' College to a site close to the central business district as part of the Government's consultation over the future of secondary schooling.

Alasdair Cook, a Blenheim electrician and parent, said he was concerned people might not get involved. He was making his proposal public to encourage other people to put forward their ideas.

"People need to get submissions in. We can't sit back saying she'll be right. This is going to affect our education for the next 50 to 100 years. It's not just the college kids of today, it's the children and grandchildren of us all. Everyone is going to be affected by it."

The Ministry of Education has asked the community what it wants for the future of secondary schooling in Marlborough before it funds the rebuilding of both Marlborough Boys' College and Marlborough Girls' College, which have earthquake-risk and leaky buildings.

The ministry says it does not have a preference, but a report prepared for the ministry last year recommended rebuilding the boys' college on the girls' college site either as a co-educational school or two separate schools on the same site, or rebuilding the two schools where they are now.

Mr Cook said Marlborough Girls' College should be moved to land in McArtney St, near the centre of Blenheim, and about two blocks from the boys' college site in Stephenson St.

The land is occupied by engineering firm Cuddon Ltd, with large open buildings that could be easily demolished, leaving bare land next door to the Marlborough District Council-owned Horton Park.

Mr Cook said there was bare land and other land with buildings that could be removed to make more room for a school.

"Looking at the present size of MGC buildings area, it would fit easily onto this land area, but since the new schools are multistorey, this area would be more than adequate." He said he had spoken to people who owned or used those buildings and while none would commit to the proposal, they agreed it was possible.

The two colleges would be close together, making it easier to share teachers and specialist buildings. They would be near sports grounds and Stadium 2000, and it would tidy up an industrial area.

An added benefit, Mr Cook said, was the new school could be built without disrupting students' learning with construction noise. When the girls' college moved to McArtney St, the boys' college could move to the McLauchlan St site while their buildings in Stephenson St were rebuilt.

"As Bohally Intermediate is also getting to a stage of needing renovation and upgrading, they then could move to the MGC site while their campus is upgraded."

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Mr Cook said he didn't expect agreement with his proposal, but he wanted everyone to feel they had the ability to suggest any proposal they thought was a good one as part of the government consultation. "I'm just putting an idea out there to be looked at."

HAVE YOUR SAY

Facilitator Janet Kelly is collecting submissions from anyone who wants to have a say on the future of Blenheim's colleges at janet.kelly@xtra.co.nz or 31 Courtney St, Motueka 7120.

Submissions should be in by February 3.

A public meeting was held in Blenheim on December 2 and another would be held on January 20. 

- The Marlborough Express

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