Have your say on colleges

GERMARI HERSELMAN
Last updated 11:23 22/01/2014

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Marlborough residents will have to make submissions about the future of Blenheim colleges without any more detailed information from the Ministry of Education.

The ministry asked the community to submit suggestions for the future of the schools in the face of expensive repairs and maintenance needed to buildings at both Marlborough boys' and girls' colleges,

It has held two public meetings, the second on Monday night, and is seeking submissions through to February 3.

The ministry's consultation facilitator, Janet Kelly, said it was the first time the ministry had consulted with a community at this step. However, people spoken to by the Express say the process is not working.

Blenheim businessman Mark Davis said it was very difficult to submit a comment without knowing what exactly he was commenting on.

"It is an emotionally fuelled topic and I think people are struggling to separate the emotional from the logical without information," he said.

He would like to know if there were any limits regarding school sites, and have more information about the minimum requirements and needs.

"Marlborough is a strong province and as a community we have raised funds for many things - if told what needs to be done we will get behind it," Mr Davis said.

Winemaker Jules Taylor said she was also frustrated about the lack of information, but wanted to encourage everyone to put in a submission anyway.

"We have an opportunity to improve schooling in Blenheim for the future, we need the ministry to know we want that," she said.

Blenheim mother Linda Barnes said she would like to hear some facts and evidence before deciding what would be best for secondary education in Blenheim.

"We don't know as parents what is the best option for our children's education, we need advice to make those decisions," she said.

"I am also concerned that if both campuses end up on one site, the special needs and disability students will fall through the gaps," she said.

Ms Kelly said the ministry would respond to the proposal she drew up from the community submissions.

"If they feel the community wants changes the ministry will start the official process or research and again consult with the community," she said.

"A simple way of explaining it is that they want to hear what works well as it is, what doesn't and what do they feel is needed."

The worst case scenario was probably that nothing changed and the school buildings were only fixed to meet standards, she said.

She still hoped to receive more submissions and believed the ministry would listen to what the community had to say.

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Sixty seven submissions had been received by Monday. Many highlighted a concern about the lack of playing fields if the schools were to share the girls' college site.

Others suggested using Skype to share specialist teaching staff and avoid students having to commute across town, as well as working on time tabling options for sharing such teachers, she said.

WHAT'S GOING ON?

Significant property issues have been identified at both Marlborough Boys' College and Marlborough Girls' College.

Boy's college has buildings that need to be replaced and others which require structural strengthening.

Girls' college has a number of leaky buildings, and buildings that require structural strengthening within the next 10 years.

The Ministry of Education also requires that schools progressively upgrade their teaching and learning spaces. Teaching practices and student learning needs have changed significantly since most of the buildings at both colleges were built.

The colleges and the ministry decided to talk with the community about the opportunity this provided for strengthening collaboration between the two schools.

The schools already share some timetabling, but the distance between the schools makes this quite difficult. 

RECAPPING THE ISSUE

What are the options?

The Ministry of Education commissioned Aurecon New Zealand in 2012 to report on the property investment required at the colleges.

The report, while dated and since ammended in part, provides a broad summary of options for the redevelopment of the schools. It was never meant to be a detailed business plan.

1. Keep both schools on their independent sites and upgrade and replace existing buildings.

(Estimated cost $13.58 million.)

2. Redevelop both schools on one new site.

(Estimated cost $51.75m.)

3. Rebuild the Marlborough Boys' College on the Marlborough Girls' College site and share specialist facilities.

(Estimated cost $34.68m.)

4. Some form of shared specialist facilities on the Marlborough Girls' College site with the Boys' College staying largely in its existing site.

(Estimated cost $13.44m.)

The report says only options one and four are financially feasible, but the ministry spokeswoman says option 3 has not been ruled out.

What's this about $30 mill?

Marlborough may be able to access up to $30 million from the ministry's budget for new school buildings. The money is not available to maintain and upgrade existing buildings.

Have your say: Submissions can be just a few sentences or longer. Write or email Janet Kelly at janet.kelly@xtra.co.nz or 31 Courtney St, Motueka 7120.

What are the next steps?

A report on the community consultation is due to be submitted to the ministry in the middle of next month, and to the minister by the end of that month.

The minister is expected to make decision in April on how the progress should progress. Further consultation is scheduled for May and June if required.

PREAMBLE TO THE AURECON REPORT

The Aurecon Report was written in 2012. With respect to MBC and MBC some of the information is factually incorrect because of subsequent more detailed work that has been undertaken by Aurecon during 2013.

For MBC:

The 2012 report describes that:

• "The central building, gymnasium and a number of the classroom blocks at MBC have seismic performance which equates with around 20% of New Building standard."This year Aurecon did more detailed investigations. The % of new building code has now been modified.

The 2013 investigation by Aurecon highlights that:

• The central building and gymnasium/squash courts are at 37% of New Building standard. The music block is at 16% of new building code. Aurecon have advised the MOE that strengthening of the music block is required in the "short term" and the other blocks be strengthened in the "long term." The MOE's stated goal is to get these buildings to 67% of new building code. In the "short term" infers 0 to 2 years. In the median term infers 0 to 10 years. Aurecon have estimated the work to be plus or minus $1.05 million

For MGC:

A full analysis of earthquake performance for all buildings has been completed.

• In total nine blocks have been identified with defective weather integrity issues. Only the Food and Technology block defective weather integrity issues have been remediated. 

• Block AA (the technology block) has some weather defective integrity issues but also has a configuration which makes it very difficult to adapt to teaching environments. It has large amounts of unused space. 

• The existing (old) gymnasium and hall have been assessed and are unlikely to perform to an appropriate standard in an earthquake.   Both the old gymnasium and the school hall require further seismic structural work in the next 10 years. 

The Aurecon Report incorrectly quotes Tim Barton Architect on page 1 of the Report.

"The independent report by Tim Barton Architect has determined replacement is more cost effective than repair and renovation" is a comment that applies only to the Tech and Art Blocks at MBC, not to the MBC buildings generally.

His comment was informed by a study of options for the Tech (T) and Arts (C) blocks commissioned by the Ministry and should not be interpreted to infer that all MBC buildings should be demolished and replaced.

Click through to read the full AURECON REPORT

 

 

 

- The Marlborough Express

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