Community board asked MOE to reconsider zoning

A call has been made to the minister of education to ensure suburbs in the city’s east are not further tested “to the point of breaking.”

In a letter from the Papanui-Innes Community Board to Education Minister Chris Hipkins last week, chairwoman Ali Jones called for him to reconsider a proposal which would exclude the suburbs of Richmond and Shirley in the new enrolment zone for Shirley Boys and Avonside Girls’ high schools.

The two schools, which will relocate to a shared campus at QE II Park next year, are required to create a new enrolment zone.

The board of trustees led consultation in April based on a document with a ‘draft zone’ which included the suburbs of Burwood, Parklands, New Brighton, South Brighton and Southshore.

It excludes Richmond, Shirley, Avonside, Dallington and Edgeware which are currently in the zone.

The re-zoning was met with public outcry from residents who felt “abandoned” and asked why suburbs with no historical connection to the schools were included, while others were left out. In the letter, Ms Jones said some families who chose to remain in the area at “considerable hardship”
are no longer assured of enrolment for their children. And they are “frustrated by the lack of consultation, transparency and commitment by the MOE.”

“The local communities in Richmond and Shirley feel abandoned following their exclusion from the zones that will contain the schools their children have attended and supported pre and post-earthquake.”

“This situation adds to the stress and upset for families remaining in an area that was hard-hit by the earthquakes,” said the letter.

Residents have gathered more than 1900 signatures in an online petition against the exclusion, as well as delivering about 3000 leaflets to surrounding areas, alerting people to the issue. Signs have also been put on fences in the excluded suburbs, saying ‘don’t leave our kids out in the cold’ and ‘haven’t our kids lost enough in the quake already?’

The MOE will make the final decision and deputy secretary sector enablement and support, Katrina Casey, said at this stage no decisions have been made.

“We are in the process of assessing recommendations from the two boards, which includes feedback from the consultation they undertook with their communities.”