Education Minister Hekia Parata's announcement about the possible closure of Redcliffs School in Christchurch has been met with opposition from the school and community.
The Minister has begun consultation with the school's board of trustees about the possible closure of the school because of concerns about the long-term safety of the Redcliffs site.
The school has been closed since a June 2011 aftershock, when part of the cliff collapsed. It is currently based at a temporary location at the Van Asch Deaf Education Centre in Sumner.
Parata says that based on the expert information and advice she has received the risk of future rockfalls means the long-term safety of the site cannot be assured.
However, Labour's Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson says she has seen several geotechnical reports which show that the Redcliffs Schools site is safe.
Redcliffs School's board of trustees chairman Craig Jones also said they had advice from experts that an earth embankment could be built to protect the school from falling rocks.
Minister Parata agrees there are measures that could be taken to make the safe site in the short term, including building an embankment and reducing the size of the school ground to keep the children further away from the foot of the cliff, where there is an ongoing danger of rockfalls.
However, she said the possibility of future rockfalls could lead to the school having to relocate for periods of time and disrupting students’ education.
The school’s board of trustees has said it will do everything in its power to stop the closure, which could take effect from July 2016.
The Ministry of Education will fund a facilitator to assist the community through the consultation process. Submissions close on 1 May 2015 and the Ministry will then analyse the submissions and provide advice to the Minister, who will make an interim decision and provide further time for the school to consider her interim decision before a final decision is made.
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