School repairs to cost $8m, with a 2-year guarantee

FAREWELL SCHEDULED: Avonside Girls' High  principal Sue Hume says the main block of the school has shifted on its piles and will have to be demolished.
FAREWELL SCHEDULED: Avonside Girls' High principal Sue Hume says the main block of the school has shifted on its piles and will have to be demolished.

About $8 million is being spent making two Christchurch secondary schools safe.

However, the long-term viability of the schools on their original sites remains unknown and has been guaranteed only for two years.

The Government was spending $6 million at Avonside Girls' High School so pupils and staff could return next year and $2m to enable Shirley Boys' High School to return next month, a spokesman for Education Minister Anne Tolley said yesterday.

Tolley said last month that the two schools would return to their sites, but it would be a temporary move of up to two years.

Both schools border the orange zone, and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) still has to decide whether rebuilding can be done.

Avonside Girls' High pupils and staff have been attending the afternoon shift at Burnside High School since March, and Shirley Boys' High has been site-sharing at Papanui High School.

A lot of work needs to be completed at Avonside before pupils return, including the demolition of the school's two-storey main block, which runs almost the entire length of the school grounds.

The block, which opened in 1930, houses the school's library, offices, counselling suite, food and technology classrooms, computer rooms, science laboratories and general classrooms.

Avonside principal Sue Hume said the building had moved off its piles and was cracked throughout.

The block was earthquake-strengthened about 20 years ago. Hume said that work had been effective because the building did not collapse and everyone was able to get out.

A second teaching block, which was 10 years old, would have to be demolished, she said.

Hume said she was excited about returning to the original site next year, and the school still had buildings it would be able to use once repairs were done.

The school will hold a ceremony at 11am on Saturday to farewell the main building before demolition begins on August 22.

All interested past and present staff and pupils, and people with connections to the school, were welcome to attend, Hume said.

The school's oldest surviving past pupil, Beryl Newman, who is in her 90s, will speak, along with former principal Theresa Shaughnessy.

A spokesman for Tolley said the demolition contract for Avonside would be awarded after tenders closed on Friday.

He said the $6m budget included the demolition work, making the site safe and bringing in relocatable classrooms.

Shirley Boys' High was supposed to be back on site at the start of term three on August 1, but the June 13 quakes delayed the move.

Board of trustees chairman Tony Deavoll said the school would return to its North Parade home on either September 5 or 12.

The Press