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