New high school gets closer to being built


A new Wakatipu High School based at Frankton and built using a public-private partnership model should be open in time for the 2018 school year.

Education Minister Hekia Parata said this week that if a suitable partner was found this year construction of the 1200-pupil school at Remarkables Park could begin next year.

Under the Government's PPP model a private company is contracted with the design, construction, financing and maintenance of the school.

Expressions of interest will be called for a single contractor to partner with the Government on Wakatipu High School in a bundle with three other schools - Aranui Community School and Rolleston Secondary School, in Christchurch, and a new school in Auckland.

Ministry of Education estimates suggest the project cost for the bundle will be more than $200 million with savings of 2 per cent to 8 per cent over traditional procurement by the ministry.

Ms Parata and Associate Minister Nikki Kaye said that if no suitable private partner was found the Government would revert to traditional means of procurement "if that would provide the best value for money and best services for taxpayers".

Wakatipu High School principal Steve Hall said he was delighted with the news the school would be working toward a 2018 opening date despite earlier indications that it might open in 2017.

"It's not something we have any control over. For us it's just great to get some certainty."

However, building new schools was expensive and it was conceivable that the date could change.

He was not surprised that the Government was wanting to use the PPP model and had arranged a meeting with a Ministry of Education official this week to work through the implications.

"It makes no difference to the running of the school. That remains the responsibility of the principal and board of trustees."

Having a private organisation being responsible for maintenance for 25 years could be a benefit, he said.

"Schools are big places with a lot of buildings. The running of property and everything about it from light bulbs to planting is a big job.

"It's very exciting. The prospect of a real cutting edge learning unit here is amazing."

It was not the first Ministry of Education PPP. In April 2012 a similar agreement was reached for the development, financing, construction and maintenance of Hobsonville Point primary and secondary schools in Auckland.


At a glance 

What is a PPP? A public private partnership between the Ministry of Education and a private company to design, construct, finance and maintain a school for 25 years.

Who owns the land and buildings? The Government.

Who pays the maintenance? The Ministry of Education pays the private partner quarterly for maintenance over 25 years, with the payment reduced if the school facilities do not meet the standards specified in the contract.

Who runs the school? The principal and board of trustees. 


The Southland Times