16 May 2013

Council sides with schools over planned closures

10:38 pm on 16 May 2013

Canterbury schools fighting Ministry of Education plans to close them have finally received much-wanted support from the Christchurch City Council.

Representatives of three schools scheduled to close begged the council on Thursday to intervene with Education Minister Hekia Parata and her plan to close seven schools in Christchurch and merge 12 to create six.

Councillor Glenn Livingston says the ministry has mis-led the council over the $1 billion plans that will be rolled out over the next 10 years.

Mr Livingston asked councillors for their support to write a letter to Ms Parata questioning why they were not told about the shake-up earlier.

Councillor David Beck agreed with the motion, and said the process used by the ministry was flawed and has resulted only in pitting school against school.

Mayor Bob Parker said the ministry should back down.

"The Government has made a mistake and I think they should actually say sorry, eat a bit of humble pie and get on with working with our communities to get a good result."

The council also voted unanimously to ask Hekia Parata and Prime Minister John Key discuss the matter with them in Christchurch.

Earlier, Dianne Hubrock from Freeville School, one of those scheduled to close, urged the council to act. She said 5680 children are affected by the plan and there had been a deafening silence from the council as communities struggle with the changes.

Phillipstown School principal Tony Simpson said there is no doubt the plan is going to create a social disaster.

Central New Brighton School principal Toni Burnside said the parents of her students don't have the money to drive their children or put them on a bus to their new school 3km away. She said that would mean students simply won't go to school.