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National framework needed for school closures

Media Release


National framework needed for growing
number of school closures -- NZSTA

Communities need to face up to the reality that over the next 20 years some of their schools will be closed or merged or take new forms due to predicted population decline, says New Zealand School Trustees Association President Chris France.

And he is calling for a national framework to ensure schools receive the guidance they need to deal with this reality.

Chris France made his comments during NZSTA’s annual conference being held in Invercargill from July 5 to 8. About 400 delegates from throughout the country are attending the annual conference.

He says over the next 20 years many regions will face population decline and as a result will see a drop in school rolls and the need to close, merge or reorganise more schools. Communities and boards of trustees working together will more likely achieve a more acceptable solution for their communities

Chris France says that a broad template for handling these situations is lacking and this can pose risks to board in attempting to deal with the process of rationalisation.

He says his observation of some reorganisation of schools around the country has been distressing as there isn’t simple, good process to follow.

“Some of the processes I observed were appalling. This was because at the end of the day all these events must be handled by people, and if they have no national framework of broad guidance to operate within then individual personal judgements may drive the changes.

“And that is what I observed. People feeling left alone to make huge decisions, money being offered that changed in amount from week to week, no minutes of important meetings kept so everyone had the same understanding and so on.... really simple stuff.”

He says one of the priorities for NZSTA is to ensure that there is a broad national framework in place to guide communities through what is often an emotion-filled and traumatic process

[ends

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