Christchurch’s Cashmere High School is preparing to embark on a major $21.8 million dollar upgrade.
The draft plan for the major project is expected to cost about $1m more than the $20.8m dollars allocated by the Ministry of Education, but the board of trustees is confident the school can plug any overspend.
The project includes a proposal to demolish and rebuild the school hall, which has problems with leaking.
The hall’s capacity of 400 would be doubled to fit 800, principal Mark Wilson said.
It would be too small to fit all of the school’s 1900 students, but Wilson said the space had a variety of uses.
Choirs, music groups, drama, theatre sports and guest speakers were among those who would benefit.
The major upgrade was originally scheduled for 2018, but an announcement was made last year to bring it forward by two years due to urgent repairs needed on leaky buildings.
Work had not begun yet, but Wilson expected it to begin over the Christmas break.
The final cost of the project would be determined by the market, he said.
“We believe that it is becoming more competitive in the construction market for pricing, so are hoping this will mean our budget will be able to go further,” he said.
Wilson said the upgrade was likely to go over budget, but Board of Trustees Chair Geordie Hooft said there were a range of options the school could pursue.
Hooft said the school had “savings” it could use. Fundraising was also an option, as was going into debt – “which sounds scary, but schools are allowed to borrow money and there are safeguards in place to ensure it’s done responsibly”.
Wilson said the current facilities were “fragile”, with underground pipes held together by clamps.
Students were using the toilets in the teaching blocks as gym changing rooms.
Music groups could no longer practice in rehearsal rooms.
“The leaky area [in those rooms] was so bad there was the risk of mould,” Wilson said.
He said the pending upgrade would eliminate these issues.
The school’s special education unit, which also leaked, would be demolished and replaced under the proposal.
New arts and science facilities would be built.
The school waiting for final sign off by the Ministry of Education, Wilson said.
He estimated the project could take up to three years to complete, and said it would be carried out in stages to reduce potential disruption.
Reported by: EMILY MURPHY
08:45, July 7 2016