School’s sale takes time
Tokoroa East School could lie empty for another year.
The school closed in April last year because of a declining roll, poor financial performance and the decline in the town’s population.
More than $ 30,000 has already been spent on maintenance, security and significant vandalism repairs since it officially shut down.
The school buildings are surrounded by tall fences. Inside the fences many windows are boarded up and grass is overgrown.
The fences were erected after dozens of windows were smashed last year and walls were tagged.
An Education Ministry spokesman said they were required by law to offer property to parties in a specified sequence and the process often took years to complete.
The process included consultation with other government agencies, local authorities, offering property to former owners or their willed successors, then to iwi and in many cases property was eventually passed to the Office of Treaty Settlements assessment, before sales could take place. The sale of the $1.41 million property was not expected to take place until sometime in 2012.
Raukawa Settlement Trust chair Chris McKenzie said there was significant community interest in the Tokoroa East School site and the iwi ‘‘would buy it next week if we could’’.
He was disappointed to hear the ministry’s estimated settlement date was at the end of 2012.
‘‘There’s a common misconception [the ministry is] holding [ properties] for treaty claims but most of them are just tied up in the internal process,’’ Mr McKenzie said.
Ministry property management group manager Kim Shannon said the ministry was concerned with the amount of money being poured into the upkeep of empty schools and measures were being taken to reduce maintenance and vandalism costs. In cases of repeated vandalism or arson buildings could be demolished, she said.
Labour Party education spokesman Trevor Mallard said vacant school sites were ‘‘a big problem’’ but were difficult to deal with.
Buildings should be demolished to at least avoid maintenance costs as vacant school buildings were a ‘‘target’’ for vandals and it often took longer than was acceptable to dispose of school property, he said.
– Waikato Times
NO GO: Extensive vandalism forced the closed Tokoroa East School to be fenced off.