Ministry reviews new school sites

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 05:00 13/03/2014

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The Education Ministry is reviewing potential sites for Christchurch schools facing relocation.

Possible sites have been identified for Banks Avenue School, in Shirley, and the central city's Unlimited Discovery 1 merger school.

Christchurch City Council-owned Burwood Park has been in the ministry's sights for Banks Avenue since 2012, and The Press last year revealed that the council and ministry were discussing the site.

The ministry said no land swap plans were yet in place, "however, we are open to working constructively with the council to find solutions which would best serve the community and our schools".

Potential sites had not yet been identified for the co-located Shirley Boys' and Avonside Girls' schools, head of education infrastructure Kim Shannon said.

September 2012 ministry documents suggested that while the exact new location was unknown, Banks Avenue relocation options were Burwood Park or the old Hammersley Park School site.

Banks Avenue School principal Murray Edlin believed the Hammersley Park site was outside the school's area.

"My personal thoughts are that the ministry have given us guarantees we will stay within our community," he said. "If that was the case then Burwood Park would be the most local in our community."

The school hoped to learn the final decision mid-year. The up to $20 million build was marked to start in mid-2015 for completion before mid-2017.

Shirley Boys' High School principal John Laurenson was told there were about four or five options being considered for its shared site with Avonside Girls'.

Mr Laurenson wanted to know the new location this year, so the schools could move in before 2018.

"Quite frankly our site at the moment is perfectly safe, everything's fine, but it's low-lying, subject to flooding, and in an area that's moving away, so it's in their interests to move with some speed."

Unlimited Discovery 1 merger board of trustees chairman John Duncan hoped to know its new location in the next few months.

The school had to be in the central city, and needed room for about 500 students.

The council said it had received no official requests from the ministry for land swaps.

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