Just over $40 million will be spent improving buildings at Waiheke High School and Te Huruhi Primary.
Education Minister Hekia Parata visited Waiheke yesterday and announced that $23 million will be spent rebuilding Te Huruhi Primary and $17 million will be available to upgrade Waiheke High School.
The Ministry of Education funding will cover the cost of building 22 new flexible learning spaces, a new library and an administration area in new positions at Te Huruhi Primary.
The primary school’s hall will also be upgraded.
Most of the buildings at Waiheke High School will be upgraded and some will be rebuilt.
The redevelopment will include new year seven and eight teaching spaces, a new performing arts space and replacement of storm and waste water infrastructure, which will benefit both schools.
Work on the design will get underway soon, with construction expected to start in 2018.
A swimming pool will not be included in the redevelopments, says Ministry of Education head of infrastructure Jerome Sheppard.
“Shared community facilities are a more cost-effective solution than putting pools into every school, which is why we don’t fund new pools at schools.
“However, we understand that the schools are looking into options around collaborating with local community groups and councils, and we will support them in identifying a suitable site for a pool,” says Mr Sheppard.
Te Huruhi Primary principal Adam Cels and high school principal Jude Young are thrilled by the big news.
“A new school for the children of Te Huruhi is a wonderful outcome.
“It will provide a stimulating and safe environment to support student learning and development.
“This announcement is better than I expected and I want to acknowledge everyone who has supported us in getting to this critical milestone in our journey to a new school,” says Mr Cels.
The Ministry of Education indicated last July that it would fund a rebuild of Te Huruhi Primary, but the extent of the work planned has remained unclear.
Mr Cels says it has been “challenging” trying to manage the school’s ageing buildings, some of which appear to date back as far as the 1970s.
Mrs Young is “hugely excited” about the funding, which is good news “for the staff and the young people of Waiheke and the wider community”.
“I’m blown away because I think my job is to be ambassadorial for our students and our community and we’ve been heard and it’s wonderful.
“We’re going to have a twenty first century facility – it’s awesome,” she says.
In July last year, the Ministry of Education announced that a rebuild of the high school costing more than $45 million would not take place until 2020 or later.
That rebuild would have involved all the school’s buildings being replaced, except four new classrooms that were moved to the school early last year.
While awaiting news on the rebuild since 2013, the school has put off maintenance on classrooms, some of which are more than 20 years old.
Although the school is getting less than half the amount originally hoped for, the $17 million available will still go a long way, says Mrs Young.
“It’s substantial what will happen – far more substantial that I guessed or hoped or dreamed.
“I’ve always believed the heart of the school is in the classroom, but now I’ve got the heart and the body,” she says.
Ms Parata acknowledged the work of the schools’ boards of trustees, principals and staff over the past few years in making the school upgrades a reality.
“We only get one chance in a generation to significantly change school facilities, so it’s important we take the time to get it right,” says Ms Parata.
Both schools are in a “community of learning”, along with Waiheke Primary School.
“Investing in the buildings will support the collaborative work being done by all three schools to raise student achievement,” she says. • Rose Davis