Education Minister Trevor Mallard has released a plan halving the number of schools in the Wellington suburb of Wainuiomata.
Under the proposal, the 12 schools in Wainuiomata would be reduced to six – one secondary school, one intermediate school, one full primary school and three contributing primary schools.
Wainuiomata currently has 12 state and 2 state-integrated schools.
Faced with falling numbers in the suburb’s schools, Mr Mallard said there was no option but to create a new path to meet the suburb's education needs.
In 1991, there were 3,600 students at school in Wainuiomata and this year there were 3,127. Estimates show that in 20 years, there will be about 2,000.
Despite an attachment to the area – Mr Mallard lives in Wainuiomata and attended primary school there – he said the changes had to be made.
“It just has to be done. The important thing is to get it right. The way schools were designed in the 1960s simply won't provide the best fit for the community of the future. I believe the solution I am putting forward is in the best interests of Wainuiomata and of the future education of its young people," he said.
Under the plan, Wainuiomata College and Parkway College would merge to form one secondary school.
Wainuiomata Intermediate and Parkway Intermediate Schools would also merge to form one intermediate school.
Glendale School and Pencarrow School would merge to become a full primary school, Fernlea, Parkway and Sun Valley Schools would join together and Wainuiomata and Woodhatton Schools would merge.
Mr Mallard said the smaller number of schools would concentrate the resources of the suburb and would ensure pupils receive the best in teaching and learning facilities.
The money saved by the merging of schools would be reinvested in the area.
“Instead of the Government just taking back those savings to spend as it wants, much of it will be tagged for improving education in Wainuiomata over the next few years.”
Mr Mallard said there was still the opportunity for schools and their communities to contribute to the final decision.
Boards of Trustees have until June 8 to consult with their communities and to report back to the Ministry of Education.
A final decision on the plan will be announced in August.