Christchurch principals ask for more time

TINA LAW
Last updated 05:00 11/10/2012

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Five Christchurch principals have called on Education Minister Hekia Parata for more time to respond to a proposed "super school" in Aranui.

Parata is proposing to close Avondale, Aranui Primary, Aranui High, Chisnallwood Intermediate and Wainoni School to create a new year 1 to 13 school, possibly at Wainoni Park in Hampshire St.

The idea was announced last month along with proposals to close 13 Christchurch schools, relocate seven and put 25 through some form of merger.

Schools have until December 7 to respond to the proposals, but the five principals in the Aranui cluster say they need more time because their case is more complicated.

They want Parata to give them until April 19 next year, the end of term one, to develop a proposal.

Aranui High School principal John Rohs said the Aranui proposal involved five completely different school communities dealing with their own aspirations while trying to "squash together to make some kind of new school".

It was more complex than a single school closure or a merger of two schools.

"This is a hugely complex exercise that is going to require a lot of time and a lot of resources."

Rohs said the school's focus right now was on National Certificate of Educational Achievement exams.

He said he did not have time to sit in meetings and still stay focused on the school's core business of educating kids.

"In the fourth term of all terms, for us to come up with a counter-proposal is just not realistic."

Avondale School principal Mark Scown said he believed the Aranui cluster had extenuating circumstances to warrant an extension.

Wainoni School principal Kym Wells said more than 70 per cent of the school community was against the year 1 to 13 school.

The new school could have some positive aspects, but she was unable to tell the community because there were no details about it, she said.

"In order for us to have a clear vision we need to see how it can work."

Labour's associate education spokesman, Chris Hipkins, said it was reasonable for the principals to ask for more time so they could work through the issues properly.

A spokeswoman for Parata said the minister has responded to the principals and they would be getting a letter this week. She would not comment further until the principals had seen the letter.

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- The Press

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