6 new schools revealed

CHARLEY MANN
Last updated 05:00 09/02/2013
Waikuku School
DON SCOTT/Fairfax NZ

Waikuku School principal Roger Hornblow, board chairman Nigel Sharplin, Education Minister Hekia Parata and Waimakariri MP Kate Wilkinson discuss the announcement of a new Pegasus school.

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Six new schools are likely to be built in Canterbury over the next 10 years, Education Minister Hekia Parata has announced as she prepares to announce the fate of 31 others.

Principals, teachers, students and parents have only 10 days left to wait before they hear which schools will close and which will be merged under Parata's controversial plans for education reform.

But yesterday Parata announced the construction of a new school in Pegasus will start in April, and that the quake-damaged Halswell Primary School would be rebuilt on its site, with work starting about the same time. Both should be finished early next year.

Parata also said there were plans to build four schools in Canterbury over the next 10 years in Rolleston, Lincoln, Rangiora West and West Halswell. It is unclear when work will begin, or where exactly the schools will be, but the Ministry of Education does own a site on Milns Rd in Halswell.

The number of schools is also subject to change because of the ongoing overhaul of the region's schools. In September, Parata announced plans to close 13 schools and put 26 through some form of merger. She will announce the fate of 31 schools on February 18.

Le Bons Bay and Hammersley Park schools both voluntarily closed last year, and five schools in Christchurch east, Avondale Primary, Aranui Primary, Aranui High, Chisnallwood Intermediate and Wainoni schools, which are proposed to close and form a new campus, have until March 7 to consult on the proposal.

Andrea Klassen, teacher principal of Greenpark School just outside Lincoln, said Parata's announcement suggested a grim future for her school, which has been proposed to close.

"We know what our decision is going to say then."

The school had a roll of 35 pupils last year.

Last night, Labour's acting education spokesman Chris Hipkins criticised the timing of Parata's announcement.

The ministry should have clarified the future of the remaining 31 schools before saying six more would be built, he said.

"It's kind of rubbing the noses of the schools that still don't know what their fate is going to hold."

Waikuku School will move from its site on Main North Rd to Pegasus. The $15 million school will cater for up to 600 pupils.

Waikuku has waited six years to get the go-ahead to move to Pegasus. The school can no longer accommodate the fast-growing roll at its Main North Rd site, while more than half of the pupils already live in the new town.

Earthquake-damaged Halswell Primary School, which has a roll of about 560 pupils, will be rebuilt at a cost of about $18 m.

Former secretary for education Lesley Longstone said in September new schools would be built but that the location and number "could not be confirmed until . . . decisions are finalised around the future of some existing schools".

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