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Pupils face cut-backs due to ministry quake policy

May 2nd, 2012 | By | Category: Latest News, News


THORNDON primary school is having to make educational cut-backs to restore an earthquake-prone building out of its own budget.

Principal, Alastair Du Chatenier says that teacher aid has been cut and the cost of rebuilding the school’s hall has halted new student initiatives.

The school’s proposed E programme, which is designed to help children learn with technology, is one of the affected programmes.

“I took a proposal to the board for a spending on ICT, but that proposal had to be cut back for the hall.”

According to the Ministry of Education the school hall was earth-quake prone.

The main problem lies with the fact that the school owns the timber hall, pictured, as a hereditary building, and so the ministry is declining to either pay for the repairs or buy it.

“It’s in their code that the ministry will not buy our hall.”

Mr Du Chatenier  feels compelled to pay for reparations out of school funds to protect the safety of pupils.

“It has made a huge impact on our budget.”

The hall was made redundant for six months until last week because the ministry declared it unsafe under the wrong civil code.

The ministry re-assessed it last week as being above 33% safe, which is the minimum of the safety regulation requirements.

He says they have since apologised for the “muck-around”.

Former principal, Bill Sutton made a statement in July last year to the Dominion Post saying he was “brassed off” about how the ministry dealt with the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake on schools.

“…We learned of it through the media and the council sent us a letter the day following the article was released in the media [checking on progress],” he said.

However, Mr Du Chatenier does not want to jeopardise the safety of his pupils by using the hall when it is barely considered safe by the new standard.

The hall cannot be utilised for things such as assemblies or as a classroom until it is over 67%.

Mr Du Chatenier, pictured left, says to get it to that percentage finance will have to be found from the schools surplus budget for the next 2 years, which will lead to severe cut backs for pupils.

The $60,000 a year budget will be used to hire structural experts and make repairs, which will affect events hosted by the school, such as the Thorndon Fair.

The board is considering a form of tax on  parents to help the school get back on its feet.

“That is a discussion going on in our board, whether we can have a property surcharge,” says Mr Du Chatenier.

However, Mr Du Chatenier is reluctant to force any surcharges on parents or students, and is considering more fundraisers to help with the budget.

The swelling rolls of Thorndon Primary have also been victim of overcrowding, as the school hall has been used in the past as an extra classroom.

Seventy-five pupils in Thorndon’s after school care, one of the largest in the Wellington area, were also forced to find another care centre or move to a make-shift one in nearby Wellington East Girls College during the six month closure.

The Wellington Orpheus choir group had been going to the school hall for years to practise, but elected to move permanently, even when offered a place again after it was considered safe for minimal use.

Thorndon is not the only Wellington school facing this situation. Over 100 schools around the capital are being forced to repair buildings to a new earthquake standard.

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is a Whitireia journalism student.
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