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Minister responds to Lakeview predicament

The principal of a Masterton school without enough classrooms is now hopeful that space pressure will ease after the Minister of Education was shocked into action.

Education Minister Erica Stanford was “horrified” to learn about his school’s predicament on Friday, Lakeview School principal Tim Nelson said.

“She just can’t believe that the needs of students in a school or any school like ours are being cast aside,” he said.

Nelson has also received support from Wairarapa electorate MP Mike Butterick, Lakeview staff, and the members of the community, who all agree the situation doesn’t make sense.

Butterick said he is “extremely sympathetic” to Lakeview’s situation after reading about it in the Times-Age on Friday.

Although he is working with the minister to resolve the issue, Butterick emphasised he can’t pre-empt the outcome.

“The school’s concerns have been heard,” he said.

The classroom space issue follows the Ministry of Education [MoE] giving the Lakeview School Board formal notice that two education support agencies would have the use of three classrooms at the school indefinitely.

At the time of the notice, the school’s roll was low and there was space to spare, but since then the number of students has grown significantly.

However, Lakeview could not reclaim the classrooms assigned to the two agencies without agreement from MoE and, after no resolution following months of negotiation with the ministry, Nelson felt he had hit a brick wall and went to the media to publicise the problem.

“It astounds me, that bureaucracy – the lack of passion or compassion.”

“The response from the MoE, it’s like I was reading it out of some manual.”

Nelson said Stanford has told him she expects to make contact again within the week when she has positive progress to report.

“I haven’t been confident before, but I am hopeful now,” he said.

Nelson said he wants MoE to admit as soon as possible that the current arrangement is inappropriate and to make the necessary changes.

“I want to see the other parties put aside any self-interests and look to the interests of the people who are actually here for education – that’s students.

“It sounds so simplistic that just having two classroom spaces would have such a massive impact on the students, but it is.”

“I spoke to the principal as soon as I learned about the situation,” Standford told the Times-Age in a statement.

“I had an urgent briefing from the Ministry today [Monday] and have directed them to provide further information, which I expect to receive in the next few days.”

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