School's battle to stay over Greenpark School

Christchurch school pupils hopped on a bus to Greenpark School after learning of its closure to cheer their peers up.
Christchurch school pupils hopped on a bus to Greenpark School after learning of its closure to cheer their peers up.

After a passionate fight, the Greenpark community has failed to save their school that has stood since 1871.

On Wednesday Education Minister Hekia Parata confirmed seven schools, including Greenpark, will close at the end of the year.

Two Ministry of Education officials hand-delivered the news.

Two fulltime and four part-time staff will lose their jobs.

Greenpark principal Andrea Klassen slammed the way the entire process had been handled and said the decision did not make sense on many levels. But she had accepted that with a roll under 30 the chances of the decision being reversed were minimal.

The process did not improve from that fateful first meeting on September 13 last year, she said. The initial announcements were riddled with misinformation and confusion.

The way Ms Parata handled proceedings that day was disgraceful, Mrs Klassen said.

"I don't know how she kept her job after that day."

Mrs Klassen is sure this will "not be the last of it" and feels for other schools that will be next on Ms Parata's radar.

She has been teaching at the school since 1989 and described Wednesday's announcement as a bitter blow, although not her worst day at the school.

"Today has been really tough, but it's probably not as bad as the original shock in September.

"We were under the understanding there was going to be some changes because of the earthquakes but we didn't think it was going to affect anyone in Selwyn or Waimakariri."

Although everyone was extremely disappointed, Mrs Klassen said there was an element of relief that the fight was finally over and they could start thinking about the future.

Mrs Klassen said parents were disappointed with the closure but she suspected many thought "the writing was on the wall".

After the September announcements, Greenpark put in a submission to seek the reversal of their closure. It was based on a "'school of the land" proposal. In a largely agricultural community, it could provide "rural-based skill sets" and become the country's first agricultural primary school.

The feedback from the ministry was positive, but said this could be provided by other schools in the region.

After consulting parents, Greenpark worked together to send a second submission after February's interim decision, this time focussing on the growth of the area.

Mrs Klassen had not yet brought herself to read the ministry's reply to their second submission.

The doors will be closed at the end of term four. The proud school will not see its 145th birthday.

Fairfax Media