Govt broke promise on Waikiwi, pupils say
Students in the Ruru Specialist School vocational programme are gutted they will not be given classroom space at the old Waikiwi School and say the Government has broken its promise to them.
However, Education Ministry special education regional manager Adele Peart-Baillie said the school was told several months ago it would not be using the old Waikiwi School, which would be put into the land disposal process.
A new satellite unit to be developed at Verdon College would address space issues and provide a modern learning facility in a secondary school environment, she said.
Seven of the school's Waikiwi Vocational Programme students wrote a letter expressing their disappointment and sent copies to Prime Minister John Key, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, Education Minister Hekia Parata, and The Southland Times.
The students said the Ruru St school did not have enough room for the class of 31 to work comfortably and they were "squashed".
The field at Waikiwi School would also give them space to play and do PE, they said.
In May last year Ruru School was given a $1.3 million payout to address space deficiencies, and had planned to use the money to move the vocational programme to part of the vacant Waikiwi School property.
The school was going to work with the Education Ministry on a proposal to develop the site and turn it into a 21st century learning environment for the vocational programme, which catered for students aged 16 to 21 who were moving on to work and tertiary education.
The funding was part of the Success For All - Every School, Every Child initiative overseen by then-associate education minister Rodney Hide, who discussed what the students wanted from the new facility when they cooked him a three-course meal at their school flat in June last year.
Student Jamie Boyle said students and their parents had been looking forward to the new space and that they were absolutely gutted.
Students had been cleaning the buildings and taking care of the property so it was in good shape when they moved in, they said.
Ms Peart-Baillie said the capital works funding was to focus on the satellite units, and these would be upgraded in Southland and the new two-classroom secondary unit would be developed at Verdon College.
She was happy to meet with the concerned students and discuss the plans for the school, she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Check out what's on in your community or post an upcoming event.
Subscribe to a digital replica of The Southland Times.
Southland Times subscriber news and information.
Click here for information about advertising with The Southland Times.