By Tom McRae
It was the last day of school today, but students at Shirley Boys’ High had even more to celebrate – they will not be merging with Christchurch Boys' High.
Year 13 student Joel Stockwell is grateful for the news.
“It means a lot to us," he says. "Shirley's what we are and it runs through our blood so it's pretty important to us." "Merging with them would've broken the bond of Shirley, also for Boys’ High too.”
Just days ago students released a video urging Education Minister Hekia Parata to drop the plans. The principal says the minister’s decision to rule out the merger is a relief, and the plans never made sense in the first place.
“Our job now is to construct something that's worthwhile, that is fiscally attractive for the minister and Treasury," says principal John Laurenson. "That, educationally, is going to take us into the 21st century."
Just down the road at Avonside Girls’ High the reaction's the same. After thinking they were joining with Christchurch Girls', Ms Parata said it's not a sensible option.
Avonside principal Sue Hume says the plan would never have worked.
“We couldn't see that it was ever a practical, viable, or desirable option," she says. "The demand for single-sex state education in Christchurch is such that it never made sense to put both girls schools on one site.”
But there is no word on what will happen to the remaining 31 schools that have been listed to close or merge.
Ms Parata didn't want to discuss the changes with 3 News – she's in Christchurch visiting the affected schools – but in a statement her office said the idea to merge the four schools was never a proposal, but only one of many options put on the table.