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School Decisions For Marton And Taumarunui

Marton's James Cook School is to remain open, following the completion of a formal procedure which considered closing the school, Education Minister Trevor Mallard announced today.

The announcement follows more than two months of final consultation with the Marton community on the future shape of schooling in the town. The Minister's decisions are:

 James Cook School should remain open;
 Marton Primary, Marton Junction and James Cook Schools should be recapitated to take students up to Year 8 (form two);
 Rangitikei Intermediate should close;
 Rangitikei College's application to become a composite F1-7 school should be declined.

"My decisions have taken into account demographic trends in the area, and the importance of quality education to our young people," Trevor Mallard said today.

" I have listened to the views of the community, both in writing and in person. When I met with the representatives of James Cook earlier this month, they impressed on me both the quality of education offered at the school and the important role the school plays as a 'bridge' between different socio-economic strands of the population in Marton.

"While this announcement is extremely important to the Marton community, it has wider implications for the process involving school change.

"This Government has a real will to listen to communities and to take their considerations into account. We have a responsibility to govern efficiently, while at the same time factoring basic fairness to communities into those decisions.

"In the case of school closures and application for changes in status, I will not always follow the desire of the particular school or even the wider community. But I will always be prepared to listen and weigh up their concerns before a final decision is made," Trevor Mallard said.

In an unrelated case, the Minister announced today that he was declining an application made by Taumarunui High School to become a Form 1-7 School.

"I don’t believe there was enough support in the community for this proposal, or that it added to the quality of education available to Taumarunui children. Over time, I think it would have lead to the weakening and eventual decapitation of some or all of the primary schools in the area.

"However, the school also has some serious property needs which, if addressed will help enhance the quality of education at the school. I have arranged for them to be included immediately in the Government's new property programme that all schools will be brought into over the next five years.

"That means it will be able to submit a 10-year property plan for modernisation and prioritise their work programme in a way that was not previously possible.

"I am also encouraging the school to apply to become a lead school for an Information and Communications Technologies Professional Development Cluster. With its large rural make-up, the Central North Island area is one of the areas that will have priority for a cluster and Taumarunui High School certainly has capability in this area," Trevor Mallard said.

Ends

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