Central New Brighton and South New Brighton schools are set to merge by January 2014.
Central New Brighton principal Toni Burnside said she was ''absolutely gutted'' by the decision to push the merger forward, which would make it harder for the new school to succeed.
''The timeframe's ludicrous...you need to appoint a new board of trustees, you need to appoint a new principal, which isn't a small thing, then there's staff analysis and getting together a leadership and management team.
''That's a long long process, and it's a big ask to do that by the end of the year.''
Burnside said the quick merger meant children were likely to suffer as it was not properly planned out.''
Instead of doing it properly with new facilities, you'll have half-a-dozen prefabs on the back of the field, then while the children are there it will be a building site.''
South New Brighton board of trustees chairwoman Sarah Clark said the new timeframe was the ''real surprise'' for the school, and they should have been consulted before the change was made.
"This timeline is very tight to achieve all that needs to be achieved with respect to creating the new school,'' Clark said.
She did not understand why the ministry wanted to go ahead with the merger when the school had been performing well on its own.
North New Brighton school is set to merge with Freeville School.
North New Brighton principal Brian Walkinshaw said the school had not wanted the merger to go ahead but was unlikely to challenge the decision.
''I guess we have to recognise the reality on our side of town with the earthquake damage and the red zone and the roll reduction . . . so we're not surprised that they're sticking with the original decision.''
However, the school was ''extremely surprised'' that the merger would now happen two years earlier than planned.
''We still can't answer a lot of questions [about the merger], because we still don't really know the nuts and bolts of how it's meant to happen.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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