New Zealand / Education

Auckland school self-funds five classrooms to cope with swelling school roll

14:17 pm on 26 February 2024

Macleans College funded and built five classrooms at a cost of $2.5 million. Photo: RNZ

An Auckland school has self-funded five classrooms to cope with a swelling school roll, and says it needs another five.

Listen to Macleans College principal Steve Hargreaves and Andersons Bay School principal Pauline Simpson on Nine to Noon

The principal of Macleans College, Steve Hargreaves, told Nine to Noon the school's roll had grown by 300 local students in the last two years, driven by in-fill housing and immigration.

He said that a few years ago its roll sat at 2500 but, including out of zone and international students, it is now at 2900.

The Ministry of Education had not constructed any new classrooms in 20 years, Hargreaves said.

He had been told by the ministry that they could build the school new classrooms in about three years, if the ministry started work now.

"Of course we can't wait, so we've built five classrooms, and they are open now. They cost us two and a half million dollars, and we put that together in about nine months, so the students have rooms now, and if we didn't, I don't know where we would be teaching our classes right now."

Hargreaves said when they told the ministry they had built five classrooms for $2.5 million they did not believe them, saying they thought it would cost around twice that.

He said because the school had self-funded the build it had been able to control costs better than the ministry.

The school paid for the build with funds accumulated over 25 years through having international students, he said.

Andersons Bay School principal Pauline Simpson said her school had no ability to self-fund an upgrade, but was badly in need of one after no improvements since the 1970s.

She told Nine to Noon that five years ago the Ministry of Education said they would get a whole new school built over 25 years.

The project had recently got to the stage of putting in consents and selecting carpets and paint colours, when the ministry told them that the project was being put on hold.

They have now been told they will get an upgrade of half the size, which Simpson said was a short-sighted band-aid approach.

"The master plan vision for the school was the right approach. It just seems ridiculous and short-sighted to change it now. So much money has been spent. At least a million dollars I would think. We did ask for a Official Information Act request, which they haven't delivered on time, to tell us just how much money was been spent on architects, consultants, our time, their time."

Ministry of Education head of property Sam Fowler said in a statement that around $750,000 had been spent on the project so far, and the work to date would support the smaller planned development and future roll growth when needed.