Schools work­ing to meet build­ing code as soon as pos­si­ble

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

Two hun­dred Tawa students take lessons in build­ings that have been de­clared at risk in an earth­quake, leav­ing prin­ci­pals scram­bling to bring the class­rooms up to code.

Tawa Col­lege’s Block A and Tawa School’s Block B have failed to meet the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion’s min­i­mum earth­quake stan­dards, ac­cord­ing to en­gi­neers who vis­ited Porirua schools this win­ter.

Tawa School’s Block B meets 29 per cent of build­ing stan­dards, and half of Tawa Col­lege’s Block A meets 29 per cent and the other half 31 per cent. The min­i­mum for school build­ings is 33 per cent.

Students are al­lowed to oc­cupy earth­quake- risk build­ings while strength­en­ing work is be­ing planned, the min­istry says.

Tawa School prin­ci­pal Ian De­war says strength­en­ing work will be done as soon as pos­si­ble, ide­ally be­fore Christ­mas.

The school is wait­ing for build­ing plans to be drawn up by the min­istry be­fore it can pro­ceed to ten­der the project, he says.

Block B dates from 1941 and com­prises two class­rooms, which are used by the school’s 34 year 7 and 8 students and four teach­ing staff.

The one-storey build­ing needs strength­en­ing along its length, and in­ter­nal walls be­tween the class­rooms need higher stan­dard wall­board to make them more rigid, Mr De­war says.

Students us­ing Block B are not in dan­ger, he says.

The cost of the project is un­known un­til the school re­ceives the min­istry’s plans, Mr De­war says.

Money set aside for up­grad­ing the school’s blocks C and D will be di­verted to the work, he says.

Tawa Col­lege prin­ci­pal Mur­ray Lu­cas says its Block A is used by up to 180 tech­nol­ogy students at a time, and also houses a staff study room and the uni­form shop.

The one- storey, nineclass­room block dates from 1961 and needs its roof braced to meet the code. The west side of the build­ing also has too many glass win­dows, Mr Lu­cas says.

‘‘If some­thing hap­pened all the glass would come out and it wouldn’t be flash.’’

Re­me­dial work will be done in com­ing months us­ing money from the school’s con­tin­gency bud­get.

‘‘We’re go­ing to ac­tion it im­me­di­ately. ’’

Tawa Col­lege students should be safe in a medium shake, Mr Lu­cas says.

Tawa Col­lege par­ent and can­teen worker Lau­rel Baird says her teenagers are well- in­formed about Block A’s prob­lems and she is not con­cerned for their safety.

‘‘ If the min­istry knows and the school knows and they’re work­ing on it. For me as a par­ent that’s good,’’ she says.

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