'Something new' needed to change Minister's mind

TINA LAW
Last updated 05:00 19/02/2013
Hekia Parata
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON
DECISION TIME: Education Minister Hekia Parata announces which schools will close, merge, or remain untouched.

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Schools likely to close or merge will have to provide new information before Education Minister Hekia Parata will consider changing her mind.

Parata yesterday announced an interim decision to close seven schools and merge 12 to create six. Another 12 schools proposed for closure or merger were given a reprieve.

Schools have until March 28 to respond to the latest proposal, before Parata will announce her final decisions on the 31 schools at the end of May.

However, schools would have to come up with something new, before she could be convinced to backtrack, Parata said yesterday.

"Over the next six weeks we have to see something that we have not considered in this process."

Schools had put through "thoughtful, well-considered submissions" and the consultation process had been "really comprehensive", Parata said.

"We have taken every care to ensure that we are making good and balanced decisions here."

However, some schools will not have to wait until the end of May to have their futures confirmed.

Parata said if schools were happy with the interim decision, they could write a letter to her confirming that, and she would reply by approving the decision.

Making the decisions on schools' futures had been hard, Parata said.

"I have found it difficult. We are talking about schools that parents have relationships with. They were the hubs of the community during the earthquake."

However, she was convinced Christchurch was going to end up with one of the most modern schooling networks in the country, which will help "every child get a great education".

While the Government was planning to close or merge 19 schools, it would also rebuild 15 schools in the next 10 years, which would result in $1 billion being invested in greater Christchurch, Parata said.

"We want to get it right. All of us do."

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