$7m cost of temporary campus at Albany Senior High

By Martha McKenzie-Minifie

The temporary campus planned as a short-term fix for the troubled development of the country's first state high school comes with a $7 million price tag, figures show.

The Ministry of Education has released budget details for Albany Senior High School interim campus to the Herald under the Official Information Act. It includes $2.39 million for site works and $4.6 million for buildings.

The school - which was held up as a flagship for the junior high and senior high model when first announced - is due to open next year.

But a series of site problems - including pending Environment Court proceedings - will see the first intake of students housed in the temporary campus on the junior high site instead of the permanent buildings, to go up on former Albany Outdoor Education Centre land.

In November last year, Education Minister Chris Carter said that $47 million was originally allocated to the project but he expected the ministry to seek an extra, at-that-time undetermined, amount of money because of site "complexities".

Ministry group manager property Paul Burke told the Herald the maximum budget for setting up the school's interim campus was now $6.99 million.

But the actual cost was unknown as a great deal of work was still to be done.

Mr Burke said the buildings were reusable and could be moved to other sites once the school opened at its permanent location.

"Alternatively, the ministry has the option to sell the buildings once they are surplus to immediate requirements."

Mr Burke said the site works would happen on an undeveloped part of the junior high site and include a drainage process that meant the area could later be used for sport and recreation.

A carpark for senior high staff would be available for an early childhood education service proposed for the site in the future.

National's education spokeswoman Anne Tolley said it was time for "less talking" and "more building". "Unfortunately, the longer you leave things, the more expensive they get," she said. "I think everyone is really frustrated about how long it's taken."

Last year, plans to house the school temporarily in commercial buildings were shelved and public meetings attracted more than 400 people.

Albany Senior High establishment board chairman Simon Russell said there was positive steps towards opening next year. He said the principal, three deputy principals and management staff had been appointed.

More than 250 teachers applied for about 20 teaching positions, to start in the last term of this year.

"[We are] very confident about the school, delighted in the calibre of the teachers and the way the curriculum is shaping up."

Mr Russell said the board was hopeful ongoing talks would resolve issues with the site before the case got to the Environment Court.

- NZ Herald

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