• Wyatt Creech

Auckland will benefit to the tune of $180 million for new school accommodation over the next 12 months, Education Minister Wyatt Creech announced today.

Mr Creech said rapidly increasing school rolls and improvements to teacher:pupil ratios meant that 40-percent of the school property works programme for 1996/97 would be spent in Auckland.

A total of $442 million will be spend across the country in the next 12 months on new and improved school accommodation.

"School rolls are expanding throughout the country, but the greatest area of growth is in Auckland. The number of students in the greater Auckland region will increase by about 65,000 by the year 2011, and the expansion programme now being undertaken will help provide the accommodation they will need.

"The Government will meet the demand for new schools, extra classrooms and support facilities as well as continuing to modernise existing schools, creating an effective teaching environment as we move towards the 21st century."

Mr Creech said 35 new schools would open in Auckland between 1996 and 2006, most will cater for growth in new housing subdivisions. The major development programme began this year with the opening of Kohia Terrace School in Eden, and the enlargement of Balmoral Intermediate to a full primary school.

Five more new schools would be opened in 1997, two in Howick and one each in Whangaparoa, North Shore and Manurewa. One other school would be relocated to a larger site. A further eight brand new schools were likely for 1998.

In the coming year, about 570 classrooms - or what equated to fifty schools - would be delivered to more than 200 Auckland schools.

In this year's Auckland property programme, provision had been made to purchase eighteen sites for new schools needed over the next decade, and for four existing schools to have their sites expanded.

Mr Creech said other school facilities, like administration areas, would be improved as well. Twenty-eight schools in Auckland would have their administration buildings substantially upgraded in 1996/97 and more would follow the following year.

"While the focus is on accommodation to support roll growth and improved teacher:pupil ratios, this cannot be at the expense of upgrading existing schools," Mr Creech said. "Just over $12 million will be spent on new projects to improve health and safety in Auckland schools as well as to generally modernise accommodation to meet curriculum requirements."

"While considerable emphasis is now being placed on expansion, I take this opportunity to assure schools that deferred works has not been forgotten," said Mr Creech. "The government will spend $7 million this year to further reduce the backlog of deferred maintenance in Auckland.

By the end of 1996/97, nearly $400 million will have been spent nationally in addressing deferred maintenance. All schools, including those in Auckland, are now looking and functioning better as a result."