Four Christchurch schools to close

TINA LAW
Last updated 15:25 22/05/2013

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Four Christchurch schools have been told they will close to form a super-school.

Aranui High School, Aranui Primary, Wainoni and Avondale will be closed to form one facility catering for Year 1 to Year 13 students. It would be built on the Aranui High School grounds.

One school proposed to merge, Chisnallwood Intermediate, will stay open.

Education Minister Hekia Parata announced the news this afternoon.

Five teams of Ministry of Education staff were visiting each school at the same time to deliver the news.

The announcement was met with a collective gasp from some Aranui High pupils, staff and parents who had gathered to hear the news in the school hall.

Principal John Rohs said it was a challenging day for the school, but the school had known for a long time there was a strong liklihood of change.

He encouraged the community to look at the positive side of the interim decision.

"Some of you will have the opportunity to be among the first to experience life in this new, amazing, exciting school.

"I'll acknowledge some people do not feel positive about this proposal but why would parents not want to send their children to the very best school available," he said.

Teacher Charon Holderness, who was a also former student of the school, said at least the community would get a school with level floors.

She was not sure how she would be impacted.

"I dont have enough information yet to really go forward.

"I live in a broken home, drive on broken roads and teach in a broken school."

The school populations of the four merged schools add up to about 1000, while Chisnallwood Intermediate has about 750 pupils.

Chisnallwood Intermediate principal Richard Patton received a standing ovation after he delivered the good news.

Parents were overwhelmed to learn the school would be saved.

Debbie Gough said she had been expecting the worst, but the interim decision was "such fantastic news".

Five teams of Ministry of Education staff visited each school at the same time to deliver the news.

Principals and board members will then meet Parata.

Parata announced last September plans to close Avondale, Wainoni and Aranui schools, Aranui High and Chisnallwood Intermediate to form one school.

Chisnallwood and Avondale were vehemently against the proposal, while the other three schools supported it in varying forms.

The schools will have 28 days to respond to the interim decision before Parata announces a final decision.

Another 17 Christchurch schools under threat of merger or closure are expected to hear final decisions by the end of this month, but a date has yet to be set.

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- The Press

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