Ministry of Education Halts School Co-location Project After $24 Million Spending

The Ministry of Education has announced the termination of a significant co-location project, Te Tātoru o Wairau, following soaring costs. With expenditures reaching approximately $24.5 million, the project aimed to amalgamate Marlborough Boys’ and Girls’ colleges onto a single site while relocating Bohally Intermediate School. However, the estimated cost surge from $170 million to $405 million prompted the decision to abandon the endeavor.

Ministry of Education Halts School Co-location Project After $24 Million Spending

Reasons Behind the U-Turn:
Education Minister Erica Stanford expressed concern over the project’s skyrocketing expenses, which nearly doubled the initial forecast. This decision reflects broader challenges within the school property system, described as bordering on crisis due to unrealistic project scopes and affordability issues.

Spending Breakdown:
Sam Fowler, head of property at the Ministry of Education, disclosed that the $24.5 million expenditure included various components such as property acquisitions and infrastructure development. Notably, $4 million was allocated for purchasing residential properties, while $4.5 million went into constructing a new hockey turf at Marlborough Girls’ College.

Shift in Focus:
Instead of pursuing the co-located campus, the ministry is redirecting efforts towards addressing urgent property needs at the three involved schools. This shift aims to prioritize essential upgrades and maintenance projects to enhance the learning environment for students.

Reactions from School Principals:
Principals from Marlborough Boys’ and Girls’ colleges expressed disappointment but acknowledged the decision’s rationale. They emphasized the necessity of urgently upgrading critical facilities within their respective institutions, citing aging buildings and infrastructure as pressing concerns.

Community Disappointment and Future Collaboration:
The project’s cancellation elicited disappointment within the community, with stakeholders lamenting the loss of a transformative opportunity. Despite the setback, collaborative efforts between the Ministry of Education and local partners, including iwi representatives, remain ongoing to improve educational facilities in the region.

The decision to halt the co-location project underscores the challenges faced by the education sector in balancing ambitious development goals with fiscal responsibility. Moving forward, stakeholders are committed to addressing pressing needs while advocating for a robust and inclusive approach to educational infrastructure planning.

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