Schools claim merger data incorrect
Tue, 02 Oct 2012 7:00p.m.
By Natasha Utting
Three weeks ago, the Government announced its proposal to close 13 schools in Christchurch and merge a further 18.
But according to the Ministry of Education's own figures, 20 schools are in fact earmarked for closure. A question mark hangs over another seven who are awaiting geotechnical reports.
Perhaps it is all in the way you spin figures. The ministry has used three categories to justify its proposed changes: the state of a school's buildings, land and student population.
After some schools voiced concern about the data, Campbell Live decided to check it. It contacted every affected school and 27 responded.
Out of that 27, 22 schools say the information the ministry has used to justify their proposed closure or merger is factually incorrect.
Minister of Education Hekia Parata is relying on the numbers crunched by her ministry. Statistics are the foundation of proposals about which schools should merge or close.
She's drawn on the data the ministry has collected about how many buildings each school has, how many are damaged, how many pupils schools have and the state of their land.
Twenty-two schools believe that they are in trouble. They think the ministry's figures are wrong.
For example, the ministry lists all 50 imaginary buildings at Burnside Primary as having earthquake damage, making the school appear way too expensive to fix.
“The ministry has quoted us $9 million to repair the school,” says Burnside Primary principal Matt Bateman. “Our own figures show that this is grossly inflated and we could have a new school for about half that.”
At Central New Brighton Primary, the ministry says they have 13 quake-damaged buildings. Two cracks represent the worst of the school’s damage, yet 'affected buildings' is one of the main reasons given for this school to merge.
“If they’re going to be making decisions of this magnitude that are going to impact not only this generation but future generations, they ought to have their facts right,” says Central New Brighton School principal Toni Burnside. “I think it’s rationalisation and it’s about money and it’s not about people and it’s not about a community.”
At Burwood School, the ministry has drawn a longbow, mistaking a long jump pit for liquefaction.
At Ouruhia Model School, they've been saddled with nine quake-damaged buildings when they don't even have nine buildings.
It is a similar story at Greenpark School. They think they have just three buildings - unless the ministry is counting the roofless pool changing room shed or the library, which is in fact community, not ministry-owned.
The number of buildings matters because they equate with the amount of money the ministry says it would cost to fix each school.
The picture painted now for Glenmoor School looks far uglier because the ministry counts a leaky building as theirs, when it is not. Their school roll is small but it hasn't dropped post-quakes. Their buildings and land are solid.
The ministry says Christchurch schools are over-capacity. That means there are too many schools for too few children.
So Campbell Live took a look at school rolls. Some have dropped. Some have remained static. Some are growing and others sit in areas earmarked for growth.
But for all schools, the ministry has chosen to work off March’s enrolment figures. Many say this data is out of date and distorts the reality.
Based on March figures, the ministry says Linwood Ave only needs 11 classrooms, but they already use 15. Phillipstown has grown 32 students since March, and at Windsor School the roll is up by 75.
Some principals think it’s the ministry's agenda to close smaller schools, quake-affected or not, in favour of big schools.
Linwood Ave isn't affected by bad land. Damage to buildings is minimal, its population is healthy and it performs in the top 20 percent of schools in New Zealand.
If this is about the demise of small schools, it is also about the demise of middle schools. Five of Christchurch’s intermediates are due to close.
Manning has nine buildings. The ministry lists 15.
“Their data is very questionable,” says Manning Intermediate School principal Richard Chambers. “Some of it is definitely incorrect. Some of it is misinterpreted…We have concerns about incomplete data, and data being used in a way that isn’t appropriate. It’s being claimed it’s representing one thing when it’s actually representing something else.
“The ministry tells us it’s because of property issues – the buildings. We’ve got a brand new building worth just under $3 million. The redevelopment, it was opened in November last year.”
Aranui High School sympathises. They don't have the 30 damaged structures the ministry says they have, and they also have a number of new high-spec buildings.
“With the rebuild of the school, we’ve been very fortunate that damage there has been absolutely minimal because they are brand new building that have only been open for 18 months,” says Aranui High School principal John Rohs.
Another mysterious figure in ministry data concerns “disengaged” students. Manning Intermediate is listed as having 10 disengaged kids. At Central New Brighton the Ministry says they have 27.
Manning's 10 disengaged students actually equates to three, but no one's sure why this information is listed alongside quake damage anyway.
The ministry has made its move. Now the schools want to know whether they're pawns in some larger game.
Even though these changes are just “proposals”, schools under the axe are already losing students.
Schools now have until early December to try and convince the ministry that its figures do not add up.
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28/11/2012 11:15:57 p.m.
A staff member in our school has been getting correctly paid for each payround, until this week. She got payed 8 weeks pay extra, ($2000+) in her bank account. She is part time. Even if she repays it all tomorrow becuase she has received it as income, itaffects her benefit and she loses some of the benefit she would receive. Novapay says things are getting better, so why are new problems occurring?
19/11/2012 1:25:19 p.m.
There is only one priority here. GEOTECH REPORT.
The inhabitants of CHCH should be trying really hard to get this..
The implications will be far more wide ranging than just Schools..
The Govt will be deleting all manner of services without recourse..
11/10/2012 1:16:32 a.m.
Mr February wrote:
Hekia Parata is doing heck of a job being Gerry Brownlee with two X chromosomes.
7/10/2012 9:06:25 p.m.
Phil Tayler wrote:
One can't help wondering if two forces are not at work here. on the one hand Johnnie Bank's Chattel schools are looming (pay education means necessitating the closing of 'state schools'). On the other hand less schools means less teachers. Maybe Chattel schools will employ them, but of course, Charter schools don't need teachers. Stop this madness before it spreads.
Regards to John and team,
Phil Tayler, Mt, Eden
5/10/2012 10:17:53 p.m.
I have taken everything the Govt has thrown at me since the quakes I have been every color of the rainbow for my land I have been through every change that EQC could put me through. Every law change they make to suit their BIG BUSINESS MATES. But now your pissing around with our kids and their education, This is not a CHCH QUAKE thing, this is a nation wide catastrophe!!!! Those people out of Christchurch that think it wont happen to me, Well watch this space we are only the Guinea Pigs. Anyone out side of Christchurch that are National supporters and have kids might want to look in to what they might do to your child's education. research Charter Schools and see if your child will benefit from this sort of schooling, look at your child's current teacher and see how fast they will lose their jobs as they wont be able to compete with teachers with no experience take over their jobs because they are happy to take minimum wage
5/10/2012 11:27:09 a.m.
I am deeply concerned for the children of Christchurch. I am a mother of 2 (living in Chch) - have the children of Chch not suffered enough over the last 2 years? Many of the children are psychologically scarred from the quakes, suffering from anxiety, depression and exhaustion. (My 7 year old has had two stints of councilling.) During this unstable time, school has been the only constant for many of the children. A safe place where they can escape the broken houses and stressed parents and just be a normal kid. The children are still suffering - now is not the time to upheave the school system in Christchurch. Nobody is listening to the children! The timing is wrong. What is the rush? Wait a couple of years and in the interim gather correct data, visit and consult the Chch schools. Then maybe we will get a school system that the majority will be happy with.
4/10/2012 10:13:57 p.m.
Hana Bellingham wrote:
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism is a 2007 book by Canadian author Naomi Klein, and is the basis of a 2009 documentary by the same name directed by Michael Winterbottom.
The book argues that the free market policies of Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman have risen to prominence in some countries because they were pushed through while the citizens were reacting to disasters or upheavals. It is implied that some man-made crises, such as the Falklands war, may have been created with the intention of pushing through these unpopular reforms in their wake.
3/10/2012 8:46:36 p.m.
Peter HAssan wrote:
We live in Canterbury and as many residence are feeling life is now changed dramatically for all of us.
what I am mostly annoyed about all this is the way this national government has the right to dictate and make irrational decisions for the people who live here without consultation or democratic input from the people who have gone through so much pain and now red tape formulated by govt and insurance blunders.
The school issue is a huge mistake, by the government agencies and ministers of education.
Dotcomm is an embarrassment to New Zealand people this government must have been aware of the secret spying on MR Dotcom, and illegally.
MR Key as Prime MInister, with no real policies to put the country back on its feet with growth and employment should resign as a government and have an early election for the sake of all New Zealanders and as a country in recession, with no real direction.
National as a govt do not care about the people and what they are saying, their time in office is almost over.
Come on New Zealand stand tall on your believes.
3/10/2012 7:39:12 p.m.
@Ian Cardin; the worrying factor is the Minister has been refering to these 'facts'as if they are correct and therefore basing her comments and communications to schools using these 'facts'. This is why schools are BAFFLED and ANGRY...the way the Ministry has communicated has not been in the spirit of negotiation or consultation. Hekia Parata can smile all she wants -I won't be voting National again!
3/10/2012 7:22:28 p.m.
Parata you are so well groomed into a National uncaring system you have no MANA what so ever to represent our tamariki (children) and future tamariki to suceed in this world....Resign please
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