Eight Chch schools merge into two
Hekia Parata (Getty File)
The Education Minister has sealed the fate of eight Christchurch schools with the finalisation of merger proposals.
Five schools in Aranui and three schools in New Brighton will merge at a cost of more than $41 million.
Minister Hekia Parata says Aranui High, Aranui School, Avondale School and Wainoni School will merge to create a 'super school' on the Aranui High School campus.
The campus will provide for Years 1 – 13 and will open at the start of Term 1, 2017. The five merging schools will close on January 27, 2017.
Nearby Chisnallwood Intermediate will remain open, but its status will be reviewed in 2020.
"The community campus is a fresh and exciting approach to education in Aranui, with huge potential benefits for students and the wider community," Ms Parata says.
She believes the new campus will give students modern learning environments, enhance the choice of learning and activities for young people and offer services to the wider community.
Meanwhile in New Brighton, Freeville, North New Brighton and Central New Brighton Schools will merge at the start of Term 1, 2015. The school will initially be based across both the Freeville and North New Brighton sites, but from 2016 will move permanently to the North New Brighton location after building work is complete.
An interim decision in May had the New Brighton Schools amalgamation starting in Term 2 of 2014. Pushing the opening date back will mean an easier transition for students, Ms Parata says.
The Green Party says the decision to join the five schools spelled heartbreak for those who fought hard to keep them open.
Co-leader Metiria Turei says the process to reach the final decision has been drawn out and peppered with bad information and the refusal of the Government to listen to schools.
"The Minister owes the people and schools in the Aranui cluster an apology. They have had to fight too hard for too long without being listened to before finding out their fate."
The focus now needs to shift to ensure the Aranui school is not an excuse to push for a Public Private Partnership school, she says.
Labour's associate education spokeswoman for Christchurch Megan Woods says the decision ends months of anxiety for parents and students.
"While some see this as an opportunity for their local communities, others are grieving the loss of a treasured community asset.
"These local schools have been a true source of stability and routine for so many families, and their closures will be hard for many."
Labour will fight alongside locals to make sure schools get the best facilities and opportunities, she says.
Ms Parata sees today's announcement as a "significant milestone" in the education renewal of greater Christchurch because all 38 schools affected by potential merger or closure proposals now know their fates.
A board of trustees for the New Brighton merger will be appointed by the end of the year.
Ms Parata thanked the Aranui and New Brighton communities for their feedback into the merger process.
"They have put enormous work into their submissions and their feedback has been invaluable throughout this past 12 months of extensive consultation."