School's board set to be reinstated

By Peter de Graaf

Commissioner Mike Eru is to leave as commissioner at Moerewa School. Photo/File
Commissioner Mike Eru is to leave as commissioner at Moerewa School. Photo/File

Moerewa School's board of trustees is to be reinstated in May, more than two years after its trustees were sacked and a commissioner installed by Education Minister Hekia Parata.

While the news has been welcomed in Moerewa, a leading principal has slammed as "absolutely criminal" that the school had to pay a commissioner close to $200,000 as a result of the Ministry's intervention.

The board was dismissed in April 2012 after the school refused to close a senior unit catering for 17 Year 11-13 students.

Their parents did not want to send them to Bay of Islands College but the school was only authorised to teach Years 1-10.

Commissioner Mike Eru has been in charge of the school since then. The Ministry's acting head of sector enablement, Jill Bond, said an election had been set for May 19. The new trustees would take up their positions on May 26, when Mr Eru's appointment ended.

Pat Newman, president of the Te Tai Tokerau Principals' Association, welcomed the news that Moerewa was about to take back its school.

He hoped the new board would be made up of people who knew Moerewa rather than appointed outsiders.

Mr Newman congratulated the principal and staff for keeping the school running during a difficult time.

But he said it was "absolutely criminal" that a school in one of Northland's poorest communities had been forced to pay a commissioner close to $200,000.

The money had come out of the school's operational budget, and could have been spent on teacher aides, classroom equipment, or school trips.

While the Education Ministry covers Mr Eru's travel and accommodation costs, his hourly rate is charged to the school.

"How has he improved the school for that money? What has he achieved?" Mr Newman said.

From July 2012 to July 2013, Mr Eru charged $149,361 to Moerewa School.

Of that, $53,500 was claimed back from the Ministry, leaving the school with a $95,000 bill.

The Advocate has requested the total cost of the Ministry's intervention at Moerewa School. The cost of a board of trustees for two years is about $7000.

Moerewa School received a glowing ERO report last year, as it did after the inspectors' previous visit.

- Northern Advocate

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