Why the costly rush to close schools, Hekia?

Hekia Parata’s decision to bring forward the closure and merger date for schools in Christchurch is causing more unnecessary stress and uncertainty for pupils, parents and staff says Chris Hipkins, Labour’s acting Education spokesperson.

The Education Minister yesterday fast-tracked the changes for many of the 19 schools slated to close or merge, bringing forward their closure to the end of this year.

“Once again Hekia Parata has shifted the goalposts.  Schools that were told they had at least two or three more years of operation are suddenly facing the axe in just ten months’ time.

“The Ministry of Education has calculated that the bringing forward the closures will cost an extra $2.7-million for temporary classrooms[i]

“In the scheme of things $2.7-million dollars is not that much money – especially when the education of thousands of kids is involved.  But it is yet another sign of a bungled and rushed process by the Minister.

“School principals are today talking of the added strain and uncertainty Hekia Parata’s unseemly rush is creating for their communities.  Children that started school just a few weeks ago under the assumption their school would be open for another two or three years have had the rug pulled from under them.

“Students at the three intermediate schools being closed are particularly disadvantaged. They’ve already had to change schools once in the past year, now they’re going to have to change again.

“Hekia Parata might want to get all the closures done and dusted before election year, but she needs to take a deep breath and slow down.  She needs to listen to the parents, children and teachers of Christchurch and think again,” says Chris Hipkins.

[i] Overall Education Report summarising and explaining recommendations from Ministry of Education 18 January 2013, page 3