School feels fi­nan­cial squeeze

Clutha Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - MARY-JO TOHILL

Clin­ton Pri­mary School hopes to be in for a warmer win­ter, with fewer sick kids than last year.

The south Otago school found it­self in cri­sis this year, with the Govern­ment five-year fund­ing al­lo­ca­tion for schools in­suf­fi­cient to up­grade or re­place ex­ist­ing build­ings. The school board man­aged to scrape to­gether $149,000 from the sale of a school house, ex­ist­ing sav­ings and the Govern­ment al­lo­ca­tion, for much needed dou­ble glaz­ing, ceil­ing and wall insulation, which is ex­pected to be com­pleted this term.

How­ever, this was only putting a band aid over a much needed re­fur­bish­ment of the school, prin­ci­pal Vicki Neave said.

‘‘We’re just play­ing catch-up, and not even very well.’’

She was pleased with what had been achieved so far, but in com­par­i­son, go­ing down to the se­nior block ‘‘is like go­ing back 20 or 30 years or more’’, she said.

‘‘It’s an age­ing school, and not built that well to start with. The last al­lo­ca­tion was used for heat­ing. We’ve been strug­gling to get [class­rooms heated] over 11 de­grees [cel­sius].’’

Last year, a pre­vi­ously un­de­tected burst pipe, which was found to be caus­ing ‘‘a lake’’ un­der room four, had con­trib­uted to a damp class­room, and con­se­quently sick kids and staff, and the worst spate of ill­ness in five years, she said.

Sick kids meant poor learn­ing out­comes, and sick staff meant ex­tra ex­pense of hir­ing re­lief teach­ers.

Damp, cold class­rooms were symp­to­matic of ‘‘very old plumb­ing burst­ing out of holes’’, she said. Re­place­ment of old wiring also needed to be tack­led.

Clutha-South­land MP Todd Bar­clay vis­ited the school dur­ing term one, and said he would re­lay the con­cerns to the Govern­ment and in­ves­ti­gate other fund­ing avenues.

Neave said she could not fault the sup­port of Bar­clay and the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion for the school’s plight.

‘‘It needs a bull­dozer there’s no bud­get for that.’’

The school was not due for but an­other five-year fund­ing al­lo­ca­tion un­til 2020.

She said the board had worked hard to fill in the gaps but was run­ning out of fund­ing op­tions.

‘‘There’s just not enough money.’’

The com­mu­nity sup­port had been won­der­ful, but the wider com­mu­nity was prob­a­bly not aware of the school’s bad state, she said.

MARY-JO TOHILL

Clin­ton Pri­mary School prin­ci­pal Vicki Neave, in a class­room un­der­go­ing re­fur­bish­ment.

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