• Wyatt Creech

The Government today unveiled details of one of the largest school accommodation programmes the country has seen - with a price tag of almost half-a-billion dollars.

Education Minister Wyatt Creech said the $442 million worth of investment over the next 12 months underlined the Government's determination to deliver a better school environment for both students and teachers.

"One of the biggest challenges facing us is the growth in the size of school rolls. This investment responds to that challenge. It also recognises the demands of modernisation and deferred maintenance," said Mr Creech.

The education property works programme for 1996/97 will provide:

  • eleven new schools
  • 1200 extra classrooms for existing schools
  • around 25 sites needed over the next decade for new and relocated schools
  • funding for 1250 works projects

"We want to ensure every young New Zealander has a positive environment to learn in, and improving the physical environment of a school is part of that goal," Mr Creech said.

A total of $275 million is allocated to support roll growth and reduced class sizes. To meet the pressures of roll growth this major programme focuses on building new schools and kura kaupapa Maori, allocating extra classrooms, and upgrading administration facilities.

Five new schools will be built in Auckland and one in Tauranga.

In addition five new kura kaupapa Maori will be established in Kawakawa (Northland), Hamilton, Ohakune, Wairoa and Christchurch.

Three existing schools will be relocated to larger sites to increase their capacity, in Auckland, Hamilton and the Wakatipu Basin.

"The Government is very much planning ahead for the 21st century. Money has been set aside this year to purchase land which will be needed over the next decade for 25 new and relocated schools. This is in addition to 20 sites which have already been purchased."

"To accommodate the lowering of teacher:pupil ratios and to support roll growth about 1,200 extra classrooms will be required by schools over the next twelve months.. The number of classrooms needed is quite staggering, especially to support growth in the primary school age population in Auckland and the Bay of Plenty but the Government will deliver them."

More than 100 schools will have their administration areas upgraded in 1996/97.

"This is proof that the Government has listened to schools' concerns about pressure on facilities," Mr Creech said.

In addition to meeting the direct needs of roll growth, $60 million will be spent on new upgrading work, $35 million on deferred works, $7.2 million is set aside for new property to support Education Development Initiatives, $10 million for the Financial Assistance Scheme, and $3.5 million to eliminate the remaining polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB's) in school lighting systems.

"The $60 million for new works is up by $9 million from last year. This will modernise science labs, technology workshops and classrooms throughout New Zealand. There are 1,250 new projects on this year's works programme, two hundred and fifty more than last year."

Mr Creech said while funding for deferred works, at $35 million, was down from $40 million last year, all of the pressing jobs in the deferred works programme had now been done. The Government had spent $360 million on the deferred works programme in recent years, and efforts would continue to eliminate the remaining backlog.