Closure of schools 'will kill' Banks Peninsula
Plans to close three Banks Peninsula schools will "kill" the area, principals say.
Three rural primary schools, at Le Bons Bay, Duvauchelle and Okains Bay, look set to close under the Education Ministry's renewal plan.
Pupils will be absorbed into Akaroa Area School or housed in satellite classrooms at current school sites.
Okains Bay teacher-principal Marie-Claire Kavanagh said the plan would "kill the peninsula".
"The community is very upset," she said.
Many families had vowed to fight the decision.
It seemed like "a social experiment" in a region that did not have the energy to fight back, Kavanagh said.
Okains Bay has a steady roll of 16 pupils aged 5 to 13, with two more due to start this year.
Kavanagh, who learnt the school would close through The Press website, said satellite classrooms, with only one teacher, would mean pupils would always miss out.
One teacher could not effectively teach 5-year-olds alongside teenagers, she said.
Duvauchelle teacher-principal Jan Wallace said the community was determined to fight the planned closure.
"We have lost the hotel, the post office; all that is left is the school," she said. "This will take the heart out of the community."
The school draws pupils from as far as Menzies Bay, more than 15 kilometres north. Soon, pupils commuting from Menzies Bay would have to travel a further 10km to Akaroa Area School.
Wallace said the school had a "healthy" roll of 27, which would rise to 32 this year.
"Numeracy and literacy is rising and the school has excellent results in national standards," she said.
It was a different story for Le Bons Bay School.
With just four pupils enrolled, the school had applied to the ministry for closure this year.
However, teacher-principal Jude Hateley was still shocked at the extent of the announcement.
Two Le Bons Bay pupils will move to Oxford with their parents and attend the local school. The other two will enroll at Akaroa Area School.
Hateley expected her school would close at the end of the year.
Akaroa Area School principal Ray Bygate said there would be different reactions across the bays and he was determined to support the community. "They are our colleagues and part of our community," he said.
Click here for the Education Ministry's document regarding the closures and mergers.
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