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Priorities muddled when schools colder than prison

Friday, 30 June 2006

Turner: Priorities muddled when schools are colder than prisons

United Future education spokesperson, Judy Turner, is pointing up the irony where primary school students are freezing in classrooms in Central Otago, while prisoners in Northland are to have central heating added to their facility.

"This absurdity highlights the unacceptable situation at Alexandra Primary School where staff and students are forced to work in insufficiently heated buildings that are in a poor state or repair," says Mrs Turner.

"Temperatures in Alexandra often don't rise above ?2 deg C, while in areas of the primary school, rotting boards are allowing water to leak through walls.

"As a former primary school teacher I know that cold, uncomfortable conditions are not only a health concern but also detrimental to a productive learning environment."

Mrs Turner is also concerned by a statement from Alexandra Primary School Principal Lyn Bird, that the Ministry of Education provides $9500 a year for electricity, but that it costs more than $13,000 to heat the school, which leaves less money for other things, such as building repairs.

"I will be taking this matter up with the Minister for Education and will be urging him to deal expeditiously with Alexandra Primary School's application for rebuilding funds.

"The issue is ensuring that our children are learning in a warm and adequate environment. Of course our prisons also need to have heating, but the contrast in situation just shows how unfair it is that our young kids and their teachers suffer from the cold in dilapidated classrooms, while we are ensuring that our prisoners stay warm.

"I think many tax-payers will be questioning whether our priorities are quite right on this issue," concludes Mrs Turner.


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