A Christchurch principal believes the future of his school is at risk because a new school will open just a stone's throw away.
Rowley Avenue School principal James Griggs was shocked to read in the media that Spreydon School was to be rebuilt on the nearby Manning Intermediate site and opened in 2017.
Education Minister Hekia Parata made the announcement last week, as well as confirming that South Hornby School will move to the Branston Intermediate site, also in 2017. But the Spreydon decision was a surprise to many.
"We genuinely didn't know anything about it," Griggs said. "We weren't even told when it was announced."
It would not only bring the two primary schools closer, but Griggs feared his school would struggle to compete with a "new, shiny and finished" neighbour.
Rowley Avenue, a bilingual special character school, would have no property upgrades until its up to $5 million renewal work scheduled to start in 2019.
"We don't begrudge Spreydon a new school at all, it's just the fact it will be so close to us."
He believed it would have a "quite severe" impact on Rowley Avenue's roll.
"The question is, will Rowley still be in existence when that time comes around? Will there be a school to upgrade?"
His board of trustees had contacted the Ministry of Education for an explanation, and to find out whether there was any consideration given to how it would affect surrounding schools.
"I think that it's a huge surprise for us and we would have liked to have been involved in some sort of consultation process to understand the rationale behind it."
Spreydon School principal Rick Wardrop said he also was surprised about the result, and the time frame for the $5m to $10m rebuild.
"Of course we're pleased and that includes that greater clarity has been provided for the future."
The response from parents had been "overwhelmingly positive", but he was equally conscious that the 340-pupil school was part of a wider community and considerable consultation would be needed.
Ministry spokeswoman Katrina Casey said Spreydon School buildings were dated, one building was leaky and requiring demolition, and there were concerns about noise from main roads and potential issues with groundwater levels.
A repair presented limited upgrade opportunities, there would be ongoing maintenance costs, and a whole rebuild might still be needed in 10 to 15 years, she said.
"Relocation was a more productive and cost-effective option in the long-term."
The ministry submitted a proposal to relocate Spreydon to the Cabinet on November 11, after the suggestion was raised by Manning Intermediate in September 2012. The intermediate had a three-year-old hall and administration blocks that remained in "good condition", and they would be used by the primary school once it moved the 600-metre distance.
The Spreydon board of trustees would consult with the school community regarding facilities at the relocated site, and surrounding schools would "still be modernised as part of the Greater Christchurch Education Renewal Programme".
Local MP and Labour associate education spokeswoman Megan Woods asked that Parata "do the right thing" and consult with communities.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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