Black mold was discovered in the school’s staff room and all but two existing classrooms in 2017. Photo/Supplied
A principal from Kawerau said his school had been “set aside” four years after most of the school buildings were demolished due to a discovery of black mold.
Rachel Chater from Kawerau Putauaki School described the delays in
renovating the school’s administrative block and repairing the damage to the grounds caused by the demolition as “frustrating”.
She said potholes, shoddy concrete and an outdoor area prone to flooding were taking their toll on staff and students.
A Department of Education spokesman said work on the administrative block was due to start later this year and was working with the school to complete the planned work.
Ministry data provided to the Rotorua Daily Post under the Official Information Act shows construction of the school was originally due to be completed in the second quarter of the 2020/2021 financial year.
But the current construction end date has been pushed back to the fourth quarter of 2022/23.
It also reveals that the budget for all the projects under construction led by the ministry in the Bay of Plenty-Waiariki education area is around $200 million. Total expenditures are approximately $80 million.
Demolition at Kawerau Putauaki School began in 2018, after black mold was found in the school’s staff room and all but two existing classrooms.
Chater said temporary classrooms had been set up until the first four buildings opened just after the 2020 lockdown. Four more classrooms opened last year, leaving the school with 10 spaces. operational teaching.
Two portable buildings were used on the site – one as a classroom, the other as offices.
Chater said while she was grateful for the new classrooms, the school grounds had become “pretty disgusting” since the buildings were demolished, with potholes, shoddy concrete and flooding surface when it rained.
She said working in this environment was “demoralizing for staff” and impacted student well-being when it came to outdoor learning.
“We run a learn-by-play program – and the juniors can hardly do anything outside because we have potholes and horrible concrete.
“Covid has been pretty tough, but when you’re working in flooded areas because the drainage isn’t good enough, [with] potholes and damage. It’s in progress.”
She said it was “frustrating” that they are still waiting for the damage from the demolition to be repaired.
The school was also expecting the construction of two classrooms, the renovation and extension of its administrative block.
Chater said work on the administrative block was due to finish in July last year, but still had no start date for construction.
She said there had been “a whole bunch of delays” and he felt construction and repair work was not a priority.
“It has a massive impact on people’s ability to do their jobs.”
She said she felt like work at school had been “set aside” and “no one is really pushing to do anything”.
“It just feels like other schools are moving things much faster – and we’re still waiting to get something that should have been done a long time ago.
“It’s frustrating – school has to be a game changer for so many people. It’s where our children come and can find hope and dream of what life could be like.”
Meanwhile, Western Bay of Plenty Principals Association president Suzanne Billington said the association was concerned about the delivery of property projects.
It had been “proactive” in trying to alleviate this problem, with a task force meeting regularly with the Department for Education.
“This is in its infancy – however, it is seen as a trial by MOE to use current, credible and primary experience with MOE staff to help overcome these issues and build an improved and more transparent property system.”
Department for Education property manager Sam Fowler said he was working with the head teachers’ association to help the organization “effectively supply schools in the area”.
He said the redevelopment of Kawerau Putauaki School has progressed through a series of projects.
“We worked closely with stakeholders to determine the best approach for each stage and manage delivery challenges.”
He said work on the administrative block is expected to start later this year.
“We will continue to work with Kawerau Putauaki School to complete the larger program of works planned at the school.”
In the OIA, the ministry said changes to the completion date could be due to a “range of issues”, including the impact of Covid-19 with supply shortages and resource issues. contractors, or “project-specific delivery complexities”.
In some cases, additional or modified milestones have changed the expected completion date.
He was unable to provide budgets broken down by school, saying those amounts were “commercially sensitive” in nature.
He stated that the “originally scheduled end of construction” was the originally scheduled completion date when construction began.