School to meet minister over closure plan
Education Minister Hekia Parata has agreed to meet with representatives of Salisbury School next week to discuss the school's future.
The school's board of trustees chairwoman says she is thrilled that the minister will finally meet face-to-face after previously declining to visit the school in Richmond.
In August the minister announced a plan to shut Salisbury and Christchurch's McKenzie Residential School, as part of a proposed revamp of special education.
Christchurch's Halswell Residential College would provide co-educational services for learners with intellectual impairment, and Auckland's Westbridge Residential School would provide co-educational services for learners with complex behavioural needs.
A new "wraparound" tailored service would also be expanded.
Salisbury now has 65 students from around the country, all with complex intellectual needs, and if the plan goes ahead they will either be moved to Christchurch or return to local schools.
Unions say the 62 staff employed by the school would struggle to find work in the new system.
The school's board of trustees submitted its response to the proposal, asking for a meeting with the minister to discuss alternative plans.
They will meet next Tuesday at the minister's office in Wellington.
Ms Parata has been embroiled in a series of battles since she took up the portfolio following last year's general election.
In June she was forced to reverse a decision on increasing class sizes that would have meant the loss of some teachers.
She also came under fire recently over plans to merge or close 31 Christchurch schools, with schools and others criticising the accuracy of information provided by the ministry.
Board of trustees chairwoman Helen McDonnell said she was pleased Ms Parata had agreed to the meeting.
"We really appreciate the minister opening her door to us as we want a positive and constructive meeting."
Representing the school will be board members Mrs McDonnell, Peter Campbell and Kelly Woods, all of whom either have had or still have daughters at the school, and principal Brenda Ellis.
The school had alternative plans and was keen for the minister to hear them, she said.
"The doors have not closed on Salisbury yet, and we are doing everything we can to keep them open for the current and future students of Salisbury."
- © Fairfax NZ News