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Spending boost on the cards for remote schools

Dalefield School is eligible for funding. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

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It has been made public that, in Wairarapa, seven schools are eligible for a newly announced $160 million upgrades package.

The upgrades will be available to the following rural and remote schools in the region: four schools in the Masterton district [Mauriceville, Tinui, Whareama, Wainuioru]; two schools in the South Wairarapa district [South Featherston, Pirinoa]; and one school in the Carterton district [Dalefield].

Last week, Education Minister and MP for Remutaka Chris Hipkins announced this new wave of funding for rural and remote school improvements.

It is to be a new package, that will stand in addition to the more widely targeted $400m School Investment Package that was announced in December last year.

“Classrooms at hundreds of state schools and kura that are small or remote will be upgraded as part of this $160 million property improvement programme,” Hipkins said.

“All schools that need improvements such as LED lights, acoustic panelling and ceiling insulation will receive them, with work starting later this year.”

This work will include almost 600 state schools that are small or remote, with an expected completion date of June 2023.

The ministry will appoint an individual project manager, who will liaise with each school and also be responsible for the hiring of sub-contractors to install the needed improvements.

Moving and replacing furniture, and cleaning up the property is also the responsibility of the project manager.

Wairarapa Labour list MP Kieran McAnulty said he was “really pleased” with the renewed focus on these Wairarapa schools.

“It is exactly what is needed in the current environment,” McAnulty said.

“The programme aims to support the improvement of the internal environments of a school’s classrooms and reducing their day-to-day operating costs, like electricity usage.

“It identifies the need and is directing resources accordingly.

“This, in addition to the significant investment for schools at the end of last year, is a huge investment in education in Wairarapa.”

He said often remote schools faced higher improvement costs and longer projects because tradies had to travel further.

Also, remote or small rural schools often had a small team of staff and did not have a dedicated property manager, he said.

“This investment is about levelling the playing field so these schools can get the improvements they need.

“When it comes to the quality of our children’s learning environment, no student should be disadvantaged because of where they live and go to school.”

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