Fears new Flagstaff school will 'destroy' existing one

JONATHAN CARSON
Last updated 13:45 02/07/2013
Vaughan Franklin
Fairfax NZ
CONCERNED: Te Rapa Primary School principal Vaughan Franklin

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Building a new primary school in Flagstaff will ''destroy'' an existing Hamilton school that has served families in the area for 16 years, its principal says.

But the Ministry of Education is going ahead with plans to build in Endeavour Ave, despite his protests.

In an email exchange with the ministry, Te Rapa Primary School principal Vaughan Franklin said building on the Flagstaff site was foolish and lacked foresight.

"To consider building a school in the heart of our established ''home zone'' catchment area will destroy the school, and a NZ asset,'' an email dated March 6 said. ''I cannot agree to another school being positioned ''smack bang'' in the centre of our patch. We simply would not survive.''

The Endeavour Ave primary school, which is scheduled to open in 2015, will cater for up to 500 pupils. Mr Franklin said about 130 pupils - close to a third of the school's roll - lived in the Flagstaff area, which will be serviced by the new school.

''From our point of view we've enjoyed a good relationship with people on the Flagstaff side of the river. It's an important part of our school community and we value them,'' he said. ''We can't afford to see the roll drop. Our funding and our staffing entitlements are based around a school of around 500 students.''

He said the Flagstaff site was deemed unsuitable when the ministry was looking at options for what are now Rototuna and Te Totara primary schools, and he could not understand why the site was suitable now.And while he agreed that new schools were needed in the area, Flagstaff was not a wise location.

The ''tsunami wave of growth'' in Hamilton's north-east was moving further north and he said it would be prudent to build a new school on the edge of the growth area, or investigate the option of expanding Horsham Downs Primary School.

Ministry regional operations deputy secretary Katrina Casey said the Endeavour Ave site was well-placed to provide schooling for the Flagstaff community.

''The aim of the new schooling is to provide sufficient and accessible accommodation for the expected numbers of students. Currently Flagstaff students travel across Resolution Drive or the river to access schooling,'' she said.''The new Endeavour School will ensure that they can access education in the area in which they live.''

Mr Franklin said he was disappointed the school was not consulted prior to the announcement of the new schools in March.

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