Errors in data used for Chch schools revamp
The Education Ministry has admitted it used incorrect data when planning the drastic shakeup of Christchurch schools.
Secretary for Education Lesley Longstone said last night there were errors in data about the number of buildings on school sites, when she was grilled on TV3’s Campbell Live.
“I accept there are three cases, that you have pointed out to us, where the number of buildings is not the right number of buildings. One is a transcription error.”
She put the other mistakes down to “interpretation” of what constitutes a building and that the ministry counted all buildings on Crown land “irrespective” of whether they formed part of a school.
It was a reversal of the response given last month, when a ministry spokesman told The Press: “Schools can have confidence the proposals are based on the best information to hand, which has been drawn from a variety of sources and provided in good faith.”
We’re not talking about minor errors here:
Twenty-two schools believe that they are in trouble. They think the Ministry’s figures are wrong.
For example, the Ministry lists all 50 imaginary buildings at Burnside Primary as having earthquake damage, making the school appear way too expensive to fix. “The Ministry has quoted us $9 million to repair the school,” says Burnside Primary principal Matt Bateman. “Our own figures show that this is grossly inflated and we could have a new school for about half that.”
At Central New Brighton Primary, the Ministry says they have 13 quake-damaged buildings. Two cracks represent the worst of the school’s damage, yet “affected buildings” is one of the main reasons given for this school to merge. … [this is just some of the examples] …
At Ouruhia Model School, they’ve been saddled with nine quake-damaged buildings when they don’t even have nine buildings.
It is a similar story at Greenpark School. They think they have just three buildings. Unless the Ministry is counting the roofless pool changing room shed or the library, which is in fact community, not Ministry-owned. The number of buildings matters because they equate with the amount of money the Ministry says it would cost to fix each school. …
Based on March figures, the Ministry says Linwood Ave only needs 11 classrooms, but they already use 15. Phillipstown has grown 32 students since March, and at Windsor School the roll is up by 75.
Some principals think it’s the Ministry’s agenda to close smaller schools, quake-affected or not, in favour of big schools.
The attack on the social fabric of Christchurch (a city which has already suffered enough at the hands of both nature and National’s contempt for democracy) is already inexcusable. To base such an attack on such abundantly incompetent and incorrect data makes it even worse.
Apologists will claim that this latest fiasco is a Ministry error, not Parata’s. Two responses. First, it is the Nats who are gutting the public sector, making errors like this inevitable. And second, Parata is the Minister in charge. If Ministers (and Prime Ministers) are never responsible for anything, what is the point in having them?