School set to chal­lenge de­ci­sion

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By JENNY LING

A LENGTHY bat­tle for land be­tween two Auck­land ed­u­ca­tion providers looks set to con­tinue as schools scram­ble to ac­com­mo­date grow­ing roll num­bers.

Pt Chevalier School says it will chal­lenge the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion’s re­cent de­ci­sion not to evict Pt Chevalier Kinder­garten af­ter a saga span­ning three years.

In its lat­est news­let­ter and on its Face­book page, Pt Chevalier School board of trustees chair­man Richard Green and prin­ci­pal San­dra Aitken say: ‘‘. . . con­trary to pre­vi­ous state­ments by the min­istry, the Pt Chevalier Kinder­garten is not mov­ing from our school site’’.

‘‘The board is ex­tremely frus­trated by this un­ex­pected out­come,’’ the state­ment says.

‘‘This is not ac­cept­able to us and there­fore the board will be chal­leng­ing both the de­ci­sion it­self and the process around it.’’

The kinder­garten leases part of a 1.6-hectare ground with the school.

In 2011 it was told by the min­istry it would have to move to make way for a car park to ac­com­mo­date the school’s grow­ing roll num­bers.

But af­ter in­ter­ven­tion by then min­is­ter Anne Tol­ley, the min­istry said the kindy would only have to move if a suit­able site was found.

Aitken says the min­istry’s June 24 de­ci­sion for the kindy to stay is ‘‘frus­trat­ing’’.

‘‘We’re still talk­ing with the min­istry about it. It doesn’t solve our prob­lems of space. We’re not ac­cept­ing it as it is at the mo­ment,’’ she says.

Auck­land Kinder­garten As­so­ci­a­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Tanya Har­vey says about 15 al­ter­na­tive sites have been in­ves­ti­gated but none were suit­able.

The min­istry came up with one op­tion, near Western Springs Col­lege, but that was out­side the Pt Chevalier com­mu­nity and there were safety con­cerns about the refuse fill be­neath the land.

‘‘We’ve ex­hausted one mil­lion and one op­tions.

‘‘It’s been go­ing on for three-plus years so we’re re­lieved the min­istry has come up with this de­ci­sion.’’

Har­vey is con­cerned about on­go­ing space prob­lems at the school and oth­ers in the area.

The kindy and as­so­ci­a­tion will con­tinue to work with the Western Bays Ref­er­ence Group, a min­istry ini­tia­tive, to find long-term so­lu­tions to ac­com­mo­date the ris­ing pop­u­la­tion of chil­dren in 18 schools in the Western Bays area.

‘‘It’s a tricky sit­u­a­tion for ev­ery­body,’’ Har­vey says.

‘‘We’re aware it doesn’t solve the is­sue that the school has.

‘‘We still need to come up with a so­lu­tion long term for the com­mu­nity.’’

There are cur­rently 675 stu­dents at Pt Chevalier School.

An­other two to three class­rooms will be needed to ac­co­mo­date the 780 pupils pro­jected by the end of 2016, Aitken says.

Al­bert-Eden Lo­cal Board mem­ber Margie Wat­son says the min­istry needs to ‘‘front up and sort the prob­lem’’.

‘‘The min­istry has been putting its head in the sand for many years, hop­ing the prob­lem would go away,’’ she says.

Schools are ‘‘burst­ing seams’’, Wat­son says.

‘‘All they’re [the min­istry] do­ing is stick­ing build­ings on fields. The cost of do­ing that is that there’s less space for the chil­dren to play.’’

Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion spokes-

at

the woman Ka­t­rina Casey says the min­istry will con­tinue to look for a suit­able site.

‘‘It can some­times be a dif­fi­cult bal­anc­ing act to meet the needs of fam­i­lies with very young chil­dren and those with school age chil­dren and we will en­sure we do our very best to meet the needs of both groups. Re­gard­less of whether we can move the kinder­garten we are com­mit­ted to find­ing a so­lu­tion to help man­age the school’s in­creas­ing roll, ex­pected to reach its peak by 2016.’’

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