The Ministry of Education has met with communities and local iwi in eastern Bay of Plenty for the second time over plans to merge three schools in the rohe with falling rolls.
Education Minister Hekia Parata has initiated a second round of consultation over the future of Raukokore School, Te Kura o Ōmaio and Te Whānau-a-Apanui Area School.
She said that she has made an interim decision that the three schools should close and a new Year 1-13 state school should open in January next year.
"Following discussions with the community, rūnanga, schools and local whānau, the Education Ministry has advised me that a new single and more modern school would achieve better educational outcomes for the children of the area, strengthen education governance, and improve school leadership," she said.
Ms Parata, who advised about 200 people of her interim decision at a public hui at Te Kaha on Tuesday, said there would be no changes in the region until after careful consideration of the second round of consultation feedback.
"I want to thank the schools' boards and their communities for all of their engagement and feedback," she said.
"The numbers who attended last night's meeting showed how committed people are to doing their best for their kids
"School closures are never welcomed, but all of those who attended recognised the need to raise student achievement."
As of March, Raukokore School, a Year 1-8 school, had a roll of 12 students. Te Kura o Ōmaio, also a Year 1-8 school, had a roll of 13 and Te Whānau-a-Apanui Area School, a Year 1-13 school, had a roll of 80.
The proposal arises out of engagement with the community since 2013.