Lack of ac­tion at Western Springs Col­lege in­fu­ri­ates par­ents

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By ROSE CAW­LEY

EMPTY prom­ises and wasted time have pushed par­ents at Western Springs Col­lege to break­ing point.

And the an­nounce­ment by as­so­ciate ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter Nikki Kaye to chan­nel $350 mil­lion into Auck­land school build­ings is not calm­ing par­ents’ con­cerns.

The decile eight school was built on a re­stored land­fill site in 1963 but the land and build­ings have caused headaches ever since.

Talk of a school re­build be­gan about 2011. A mas­ter plan was com­pleted and de­tailed plan­ning done.

But still there is no new school.

Par­ent and for­mer board of trustees chair­man Gor­don Ikin says the ‘‘an­gry and fedup’’ com­mu­nity wants real ac­tion.

‘‘Par­ents are cyn­i­cal about the an­nounce­ment. We al­ready knew money was go­ing to have to be spent,’’ the fa­ther of two says.

‘‘It is re­ally a ques­tion of, is the school go­ing to have a patch up job or is it go­ing to be re­built? And is it go­ing to be re­built on the cur­rent site or is it go­ing to go some­where else?’’

He says par­ents’ con­cerns are build­ing mo­men­tum but the min­istry’s com­mit­ment and a solid time­line need to be es­tab­lished.

‘‘There is a real un­der­cur­rent of ten­sion and un­ease around it.

‘‘Peo­ple are feel­ing re­ally pissed off now, there are a lot of un­happy par­ents,’’ he says.

‘‘It is time the govern­ment comes clean and gets onto it re­ally quickly.’’

He says it’s not a po­lit­i­cal is­sue.

‘‘It doesn’t mat­ter which party is in govern­ment, this thing has to be done and I think the politi­cians have agreed there.’’

As­so­ciate ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter Nikki Kaye an­nounced on Tues­day that Na­tional will in­vest at least $350m over the next four years to build new schools and class­rooms in Auck­land.

The Auck­land Cen­tral MP says up to eight schools in the re­gion are go­ing to re­quire ma­jor re­de­vel­op­ments or re­con­struc­tions.

And one of the ‘‘first cabs off the rank’’ will be Western Springs Col­lege, along with South­ern Cross Cam­pus in Man­gere East and Sherwood Pri­mary in Browns Bay.

‘‘We have iden­ti­fied these three at the out­set due to their lo­ca­tions in high growth ar­eas, the need to pro­vide cer­tainty to their school com­mu­ni­ties, and be­cause of the com­plex­i­ties fac­ing each project.’’ Prin­ci­pal Ken Hav­ill says is un­der­stand­able that

it par­ents have be­come frus­trated.

‘‘Anx­i­eties have re­sulted fol­low­ing be­ing told that fi­nal de­ci­sions will be made by the govern­ment af­ter the elec­tion,’’ he says.

‘‘I re­main con­fi­dent that the re­de­vel­op­ment needs of the school will not be put aside.’’

He says the com­plex site has caused prob­lems.

‘‘There has been a long drawn-out mas­ter-plan­ning process as a di­rect re­sult of these site-spe­cific dif­fi­cul­ties.

‘‘There has been no mod­erni­sa­tion fund­ing since 2010, so the plant is in­evitably show­ing signs of this.’’ he says.

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