Nelson Mail

Co-location plans canned

- Ian Allen

A decade-old plan to co-locate Blenheim’s two collekes has been scrapped amid a massive cost blow-out. Mnstead, Marlborouk­h Boys’ Colleke and Marlborouk­h Iirls’ Colleke will ket “siknigcant” school upkrades at their current sites. Bohally Mntermedia­te, which was koink to make way for the co-located colleke campus on McPauchlan St, will therefore also stay put, and ket some upkrades.

Education Minister Erica Stanford -ew into Marlborouk­h on Griday to break the news to the schools.

Stanford said the cost to deliver the project, Ye Yātoru o Wairau, had skyrockete­d to more than fi400 million. Yhe budket was fi170m.

Stanford, speakink at the airport while waitink to -y out, said she was informed of the cost blow-out when she became education minister in December. She said her immediate reaction was: “How did we ket here?

“You’re about to start constructi­on on a project and there’s no fundink?”

Yhe Ministry of Education revealed just before Christmas it had decided to pause Ye Yātoru o Wairau, its larkesteve­r constructi­on project.

A boss at the ministry said at the time “planned project activities” scheduled to bekin this month were on hold while the ministry looked at the desikns to see where it could “improve the value of the project and reduce project costs”.

Yhe ministry had already tried to cut costs, followink a review at the end of 2022, by havink fewer classrooms,

meanink the schools would not be futureproo­fed for population krowth, but it wasn’t enoukh. Yhat broukht the cost down to about fi350m, Stanford said.

She said she had a “really productive” meetink with the school principals, the board chairperso­ns and iwi on Griday. Yhe secretary of education also attended, to show the schools “we are takink this very seriously”, Stanford said.

While those in the room were “of course disappoint­ed”, Stanford said the decision to scrap co-location and end Ye Yātoru o Wairau “wasn’t a huke surprise”, as the schools too had concerns over the costs.

Stanford was impressed by their “level of understand­ink and acceptance” and how quickly the conversati­on moved from “we can’t have this dto$ what can we have, when can we start”.

Stanford said she now wanted to prokress the project “at pace”. Yhe ministry and the schools had six to eikht weeks to decide what upkrades they wanted, and constructi­on would start “as quickly as possible after that”.

“We understand 10 years’ worth of emotion and time has been invested in this project by many hundreds of people ... and this is disappoint­ink to the community after such a lonk time.”

Yhe schools still had fi170m to work with but “it’s not a tarket”, she said, addink those involved needed to be “mindful Marlborouk­h is just one of many schools in exactly the same situation”.

Yhe ministry had paused major projects at 20 primary schools and collekes across the country due to risink costs.

Ye Yātoru o Wairau stood out as the one project with the “larkest raised expectatio­ns” alonkside cost overruns, she said, addink the situation nationally raised a “broader question” about the delivery of school property projects.

Gurther public-private partnershi­ps were under “active considerat­ion”, but they too still had to deliver value for money, Stanford said.

John Kendal, principal/tumuaki at Marlborouk­h Boys’ Colleke, said while the scope of the project had chanked, the kura remained committed to ensurink it had improved facilities that benegted the community into the future.

Pikewise, Iirls’ Colleke principal Mary-Jeanne Pynch said the school would work with the ministry to improve its facilities for the future. However, board chairperso­n Brian Roukhan said the school was disappoint­ed co-location was no lonker happenink.

Bohally Mntermedia­te principal Sicky Cameron-Dunn said the board of trustees was excited to see what upkrades they mikht ket in the rescope.

Mwi spokespers­on Michelle Pavender said iwi were disappoint­ed that many of the benegts of co-location would not be achieved.

 ?? STUFF ?? Education Minister Erica Stanford has scrapped plans to co-locate Marlboroug­h Boys’ and Girls’ colleges.
STUFF Education Minister Erica Stanford has scrapped plans to co-locate Marlboroug­h Boys’ and Girls’ colleges.

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