Some work for the Education Minister in Hamilton

Guest Post from a Concerned Hamilton resident

The Waikato Times was good enough to advise us that there are $6M of empty classrooms sitting empty in the region.  The process for selling them off is ridiculously long, and some upkeep is still necessary.   Urban drift is the major factor in these schools being empty but an unwieldly and disconnected Ministry of Education is causing havoc in the region.

The Waikato/BOP regional office of the Ministry of Education has done a woeful job overseeing property and funding in recent years:

  • Numerous leaky buildings across the region (whole schools such as Rototuna requiring complete rebuilds)
  • Building schools in Tauranga that can’t be filled due to poor planning on the Ministry’s part
  • Schools under commissionership for years, leading to local parents going private to ensure their children are in a safe, learning-conducive environment
  • Onerous processes for schools applying for funding for special needs and ESOL support

There are worthy projects that are falling by the wayside thanks to the fumbling efforts of the Ministry.

Take the Hamilton North High School project as an example:

Population growth in the North East of Hamilton has been huge.  Anyone taking the 1B from Taupiri to Hamilton will now see an ocean of new housing.  There are at least four feeder schools for a new high school and the Ministry and City Council have set down plans for an additional primary school in Sylvester.  The new housing growth slowed in 2010 but has lifted significantly in the last eighteen months according to Hamilton City Council.  The figures suggest a new high school can be built, but the politics of the Ministry have been in the way.

Due to lack of high school in the area most parents of high school age children send their children to a public single-sex high school in the city or to one of the private high schools further afield.  It isn’t unknown for parents to mortgage their house to meet the education needs of their children.

The Ministry argues that a public high school exists closer for these parents.  That high school is Fairfield College.  A school that has been run under Commissioner for a number of years and only just got a Board of Trustees again, a Limited Statutory Manager and a new Principal.  You’d understand if it’s going to take some time for parents in the North Eastern suburbs to have trust in that school, especially when you view the ERO reports.

This is Fairfield college:

The Ministry is ultimately concerned about ‘white flight’ from Fairfield to a new Rototuna based high school.  The Ministry is not concerned about the safe and appropriate education of children; the latest ERO report for Fairfield was appalling.  The Ministry also knows that as soon as there is a commitment for the building process that house building in the area will sky rocket – I’m sure the developers are also hoping for that.

On top of all that the Ministry is quick to say due to budgetary pressures from leaky school buildings that schools like the one in Rototuna can’t get built.

When will operational departments like the Ministry of Education take some responsibility rather bumble and fumble their way along, using up our tax payer dollars in the process?  And, I won’t even mention school vouchers…

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.