Christchurch school faces eight month delay on repairs to leaky buildings

Plans for a $20 million dollar upgrade of Cashmere High School have been delayed by at least eight months, despite urgent repairs needed on leaky buildings.

The major upgrade was originally scheduled for 2018, but last year an announcement was made to bring it forward by two years, to coincide with urgent works in April 2016.

Work has not begun yet and is unlikely to start before Christmas, principal Mark Wilson said.

Cashmere High school

There were a “range of reasons” for the delay, he said, including discussions with the Ministry of Education on roll size and a budget review process.

The work is part of a $138m Government funding round for repairs to five Christchurch schools.

BOT chair Geordie Hooft said a hall the size of The James Hay Theatre would be required to fit the entire school.

BOT chair Geordie Hooft said a hall the size of The James Hay Theatre would be required to fit the entire school.

The school was in the process of finalising its master plan, Wilson said. Part of that would determine which buildings needed to be repaired, and where rebuilds were possible.

Board of Trustees chairman Geordie Hooft said the current facilities were “not comfortable” to operate in. There was a sense of urgency.

Water occasionally dripped into a storage room connected to the performing arts centre, he said. He’d seen first hand “the water running in”.

Hooft said the centre was a priority, but funding constraints meant they had to do their best with the resources available.

“In a perfect world we’d build something like [Burnside High School’s] Aurora Centre, but that would be a dream.”

The school’s special needs education building leaked and had earthquake damage. The school’s hall also had issues with leaking and was too small to fit all 1860 students.

Hoof said a hall as big as the “James Hay theatre” would be required to accommodate students in the future – something that was not possible.

“It is one of the bigger issues,” he said.

“It could take $5m just to build a new hall – that’s 25 percent of the budget gone.”

Money was needed to upgrade classrooms and for horizontal infrastructure, he said.

“I’m sure every department would be able to spend $20m if they could get everything they wanted.”

The redevelopment included plans for a new visual arts block, special education facilities and drama and science blocks, Ministry of Education head of education infrastructure service Jerome Sheppard said.

“We are consulting extensively with the school to ensure the redevelopment will meet the current and future needs of the school.”

The project would be done in stages, with completion scheduled for early 2019.

Meanwhile, Wilson said expecting construction to start in April was always going to be an ambitious target.

The process was complex, he said, and the school still needed to go through a detailed design stage, before the project went out to tender.

Reported by:: EMILY MURPHY
May 31, 2016.