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Leaky school repairs costing Govt millions

Sep 22nd, 2011 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

A LEAKY Wellington primary school built as a prototype for more than $5 million less than 10 years ago is now costing nearly as much to repair.

Seatoun School (above) was opened on the Fort Dorset site in April, 2002, at a cost of $5.3 million, but nine years later the Ministry of Education is footing a $4.5 million repair bill. 

Re-roofing and re-cladding the entire school began in January, has cost $2 million already, and is not expected to finish until March next year.

Teachers and the 428 students at the decile 10 school have to make do with four portable classrooms and work around the construction site.

“It is very hard and time-consuming,” says principal Peter Pointon.

“Day to day it is noisy, but we just have to get by without. What choice do you have but do the best you can with what you’ve got. People have been really resilient and tolerant.”

He says the longer they were at the school, the worse the leaks got: “I wasn’t aware of how bad it was.”

The school is now working closely with the Ministry and contractors Mainzeal and a satisfactory outcome is being achieved, he says.

The Government began repairing leaky school buildings in 2008 and so far it has spent $76 million. 

The estimated bill is likely to top $1.5 billion.

Information received under the Official Information Act has revealed 220 schools built in New Zealand since 1994 have suffered the same fate as Seatoun.

By July this year, 510 buildings were found to be leaking or were undergoing tests.

One in eight new schools built since 2000 have suffered from what the Ministry described as “weather-tightness failure”.

The Ministry of Education would not disclose the names of any of these schools under the Official Information Act.

“We are withholding the names of these schools, as negotiations with contractors about cost recovery are currently underway or are likely in the near future.”

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