The Property Game – Wellington Schools
It’s been a bit of a rough start to the year for education.
If it’s not people complaining about the amount of holiday the teachers get, then it’s the cost of education and how supposedly it is meant to be free.
Last week there was an article in the Dominion post, announcing the property funding of $6m building upgrade for Khandallah School.
In it, it mentions six Wellington schools that have received close to $90m dollars in property upgrades.
Now don’t get me wrong; some of these schools have said they have been asking for these upgrades for a good long time, and there should definitely be some relief that their requests have finally been listened to.
However, it is incredibly interesting when you start to unpack the schools, especially being aware of the types of schools these are, and the communities they belong to.
Khandallah School has a decile rating of 10, and it’s not surprising given it is one of the richest suburbs in the Capital. They get the princely sum of $6m to upgrade 9 classrooms from leaks.
The other schools mentioned follow a similar pattern.
Kelburn Normal School; decile 10, Ngaio School; decile 10, and Newtown School; decile 3 get to share $20m. It will be interesting to see how much of that $20m will be distributed to the lower decile school. But benefit of the doubt gives each school $6.6m.
Wellington East Girls College; decile 8, and right in the heart of Wellington (Mt. Victoria), gets a massive $39m upgrade to replace a demolished main building due to ‘seismic concerns’.
And the last of the big spenders, Aotea College; decile 5, got given a massive $24m upgrade approval at the end of 2015.
Information on school deciles were mostly gathered from here.
In stark contrast, my own school has also been asking for an upgrade to four of our classrooms. They are old, somewhat run down, and very much still the same as they were in 1960 when it was built, aside from the furniture and possibly the carpet. In 2012 we were all but confirmed for a remodel and were even given a time estimation of end of Term 3. But, as pencil pushers began to get involved, and earthquake testing and engineers reports got involved, suddenly our budget got revised and we were unable to do anything. For three more years we were unable to do anything with our 5YA, and when repairs to some prefab roofs and upgrade leaky walls and windows in those prefab had to be carried out, the upgrade to the sturdy brick 1960’s buildings became all but a dream. The four teachers and their 30 odd students would just have to make the most of the tatty walls and rotting wooden windows with mismatched glass and colour schemes, as well as the sun bleached PVC skylights that acted like timpani drums when it rained,not to mention all the patch up repairs, non-functioning pipes for the old boiler, and bending shelves and storage from the last 50 years.
We are a decile 2 school, although for the majority of the aforementioned time, we’ve been listed as a decile 3.
In 2015 we finally got approval for one part of the needed upgrade. The roof. And yet we are made to feel guilty when we feel hard done by here, for not feeling incredibly grateful for what we WERE given. There is a marked difference in teaching now in that when it rains, we no longer have to compete with the “ratter tatters” on the roof, and instead just look outside and try to make out the “pitter patter” of rain drop. But in comparison to what was all but confirmed, only ¼ of the necessary work has been carried out.
But because most of the “upgrades” we’re asking for are merely cosmetic, and not driven by health needs or leaky buildings, (and possibly because our decile suggests we’re not important!) our priority on “the list” keeps dropping down the bottom. Don’t worry though, because we will keep teaching a 21st Century curriculum, with modern technology and contemporary teaching practises within 4 mid 20th century walls and classrooms.
I’m not even going to go into any of the troubles Christchurch schools have been facing, because I’m not there and not up to play with where things are at; but I can only suspect that there will be some very frustrated principals, staff, BOT’s, and communities.
It does seem intriguing that a massive amount of money is being poured into the high decile schools in Wellington; communities that are more than likely in high support of this Government, and who will continue to support them as long as their schools are made a priority.
Oh but what about Newtown and Aotea, I hear you say. Well, as mentioned, there is no figure given for Newtown; just that they get a share of $20m with two decile 10 schools.
Aotea College is a decile 5 school, based in Porirua; an area with a low socio-economic reputation. But whose constituency does Aotea College fall under? Kris Faafoi – Labour. Who is his National counterpart?
One Ms. Hekia Parata.
Read into this what you will. Some, even most, might say it has nothing to do with decile, and all to do with leaky buildings or seismic strengthening.
But the numbers speak for themselves, and any school that fits into the leaky building syndrome, was built sometime within 1994 to 2004, so has already had significant funding. My example of a low decile school still waiting for a “confirmed” upgrade from 2012, hasn’t had any classroom upgrade since the 1960’s for four of its senior classes.
If you have any stories from other examples of this, or any comments, please leave a comment in the form below. It would be really interesting to hear your views.