School’s sale takes time

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

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.

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