Rotorua's Lynmore Primary School is getting its first brand new classroom in 65 years.
The Iles Rd primary school of 630-plus children is finally getting a $3.5 million new classroom block after eight years of being a "squeaky wheel" to the Ministry of Education.
Principal Lorraine Taylor said the school has had more prefabricated, temporary buildings than it had permanent building blocks for as long as she had known it.
"The school hasn't had a new purpose-built classroom since the school was built in 1956 ... it's very exciting."
But it had not come without a fight.
"It's been eight years of lobbying to get to this point," she said. "This isn't something we've been given overnight."
Taylor said the school started with about 12 classrooms and a roll of 240 pupils in 1956.
When the temporary classrooms came in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s they were all secondhand, she said.
"The kids were in classrooms that are grotty and old, so we started lobbying. We were very fortunate we got the funding over the line just before Covid."
Rotorua Lakes Council has issued a building consent worth $3.5m for the new six-classroom block. It was part of more than $14m worth of consents approved in January 2021.
The classroom block will also include an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and science area.
Taylor said the new classroom block was important for the children's education.
"What we had, like a lot of New Zealand schools, were lots of single-cell old prefabs that were uninsulated, full of asbestos, cold and had black mould on the walls.
"What we will have is a brand new state-of-the-art, modern facility that's fitting of the 21st Century.
"Good teaching can happen in a paddock, but this [new classroom] is the icing on the cake."
But she said they were not the only school in need of new classrooms.
"There are hundreds of schools that have old prefab, cold classrooms," she said. "The scale of the problem is huge for New Zealand."
Taylor said former National MP and education minister Nikki Kaye was the reason the school was able to finally get across the line.
"When she became the education minister she really targeted the problems of [school] property."
The principal understood there was only so much funding to go around but encouraged school boards to be vocal if they had old classrooms in need of repair or replacement.
"It's a squeaky wheel thing," she said. "It took us eight years of complaining so just keep going."
Construction of the new classroom block was under way and was expected to be completed by November.
"We're hoping to have the children in by February next year. That's the goal."
Ministry of Education's head of education infrastructure service, Kim Shannon, said the Ministry was investing about $4m in Lynmore Primary School.
Shannon said the investment was to deliver a new six-classroom teaching block and remove 10 teaching spaces, which were no longer fit for purpose. Work was expected to be completed by early 2022.
"Funding for the project was confirmed in late 2018, and planning and design of the new block got under way during 2019.
"The project was reviewed midway through last year to make sure the school's space requirements were being met and to make sure work could take place with a minimum of disruption to teaching and learning on the site."
Meanwhile, Selwyn School is undergoing a $1 million project refurbishing and modernising some of its classrooms.
The primary school was approved two separate building consents last month worth a total $700,000 for the reconfiguration of internal spaces of existing classrooms.
Principal Peter Barker said the project would include modernising four classrooms spaces and a "life-cycle" replacement of another four.
"It will be close to a million-dollar project all up. It's fantastic. Our students deserve to learn in modern and comfortable learning spaces."
Barker said the first two classrooms were due for completion by the end of the month and another two single-cell classrooms two weeks after that. The entire project was hoped to be finished by this March.
"The most exciting thing is the reconfiguration of our immersion Raumaki classes for our Maōri immersion students. It fits in really well with the kaupapa of our school."
Top five commercial consents for January 2021
$3,500,000 – 1B Iles Road, Lynmore - New classroom block, and relocate garage
$795,000 – 7-9 Brent Rd – Stage 1 – Earthworks, sewers, retaining walls
$540,000 – Pukuatua St – RBHS - Relocate Jubilee toilet block, ground/drainage works
$380,000 – 3 Old Quarry Rd – Reconfigure internal walls of classrooms
$320,000 – 3 Old Quarry Rd – Reconfigure internal space of existing classrooms
Source: Rotorua Lakes Council
From the Ministry
- Ensuring classrooms and other school buildings are warm, dry, and fit for purpose is a top priority for the Ministry
- The Ministry oversees and supports the property management at over 2100 schools New Zealand wide
- In 2019/2020, the Ministry invested over $1.06 billion of capital expenditure in school property to ensure school-aged children have suitable learning environments
- Late 2019, the Government launched the School Investment Package - a $396 million programme aimed at bringing forward urgent property improvements at state schools, which include classroom upgrades
- Late 2020, the Government announced an investment of $164m in a programme to build new classrooms and invest in schools around the country
Source: The Ministry of Education