Heads give top marks to school cash in­jec­tion

Up­grad­ing teach­ing spa­ces, grounds high on wish­lists

The Northern Advocate - - Front Page - Ju­lia Cz­er­wonatis con­tin­ued on A2

North­land stu­dents can look for­ward to mod­ernised class­rooms and re­vamped school grounds af­ter the Govern­ment an­nounced a $400 mil­lion pack­age for around 2050 state schools across the coun­try.

The fund­ing plan al­lo­cates $700 per stu­dent and will al­low schools to carry out much-needed main­te­nance work.

De­pend­ing on the school roll, ev­ery school re­ceives a dif­fer­ent sum with a max­i­mum of $400,000.

Many schools through­out North­land will ben­e­fit from the cash in­jec­tion, and up­grad­ing teach­ing spa­ces or school grounds is rank­ing high on the wish list for prin­ci­pals who wel­comed the fi­nan­cial boost.

Pat New­man, pres­i­dent of Te Tai Tok­erau Prin­ci­pals As­so­ci­a­tion and prin­ci­pal at Hora Hora School in Whanga¯rei, said they had first heard the good news on Sun­day and still had to find out what the spend­ing re­quire­ments were. “First of all, I’m very happy about the an­nounce­ment. I don’t think there would be a school in North­land that wouldn’t like to re­ceive money,” New­man said.

“It will be ex­tra money for main­te­nance that schools haven’t been able to do and are needed. A lot of schools in North­land have been let go to the wreck­age. For a change, we don’t have to fight for money.”

New­man said he had a few projects in the back of his mind where he would spend the $273,735 for Hora Hora School.

“The money would prob­a­bly go into en­hanc­ing teach­ing space. We have a few class­rooms that are not bad enough to get rid of them, but they need a lot of re­ju­ve­nat­ing. That way, the chil­dren get a direct ben­e­fit from the money.”

Man­gakahia Area School was equally pleased with the $65,142 ex­tra money they had been al­lo­cated.

The ru­ral school based in Ti­toki has a school roll of 94 stu­dents from pri­mary up to Year 13.

“We are grate­ful for ev­ery­thing that we re­ceive. There are lots of sug­ges­tions on how to use to money as we’re just be­gin­ning to re­vise our 10-year prop­erty plan,” prin­ci­pal Phil

It will be ex­tra money for main­te­nance that schools haven’t been able to do and are needed. A lot of schools in North­land have been let go to the wreck­age. Pat New­man

Reynolds said. He would re­vamp paved ar­eas on the school grounds as they are in “poor con­di­tion”.

“The loose pave­ment and cracks in the con­crete have caused mi­nor in­juries in the past. The chil­dren love to play out on the court, and we have to make sure it’s safe for them.”

Staff at Whanga¯rei Girls’ High School re­acted to the an­nounce­ment “ex­tremely pos­i­tive”, prin­ci­pal Anne Cooper said.

“Our school is very old, and it costs a lot to main­tain it. There’s cer­tainly no short­age of ideas. And the great thing is, it’s enough money to do some­thing,” Cooper said.

With their al­lo­cated $400,000 she hopes to bring class­rooms up to a mod­ern stan­dard which is cur­rently “a big chal­lenge”.

Stu­dents have also been ask­ing for a cov­ered seat­ing area on the grounds — a project that would typ­i­cally blow the school’s bud­get.

One of Kaikohe’s lo­cal high schools, North­land Col­lege, was equally ec­static hav­ing re­ceived $185,724 from the Govern­ment.

“We’re usu­ally on a tight bud­get so hav­ing ex­tra money to al­lo­cate is fan­tas­tic,” deputy prin­ci­pal Richard McLaren said. They might look into in­stalling so­lar power and equip more of their class­rooms with air con­di­tion­ing units. New IT equip­ment is also on the bucket list.

Karen Gil­bert-Smith, prin­ci­pal at Whanga¯rei Boys’ High School, wel­comed “the fab­u­lous news” and said there were no plans in place yet as it wanted to en­sure the money is be­ing spent ap­pro­pri­ately.

The Govern­ment hailed the $400m as the big­gest cap­i­tal in­jec­tion for school main­te­nance in at least 25 years. Prime Min­is­ter Ardern said the spend­ing pack­age was a “real shot in the arm” for schools across the coun­try.

“I’ve vis­ited plenty of schools, and I’d be hard-pressed to name one that didn’t have need. You hear horror sto­ries about kids learn­ing in damp, mouldy class­rooms.”

She also said the in­vest­ment would be great for lo­cal trades­peo­ple: “This is an op­por­tu­nity for work at a lo­cal level in ev­ery town and city in the coun­try.”

Photo / John Stone

Prin­ci­pal Pat New­man would like to re­ju­ve­nate class­rooms at Hora Hora School.

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