The Government needs to explain why it has put the Auckland Education Growth Plan on hold, National’s Education Spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“Cabinet was due to consider the final Auckland Education Growth Plan last November. It’s now been six months and we’ve had no word from the Government on how it plans to manage the increasing pressure on Auckland’s schools.
“In May last year as Education Minister, I put through a Cabinet paper outlining progress in the development of the plan. We were awaiting updated population forecasts from Statistics NZ before considering the final plan.
“Those forecasts have since been released, but we’re yet to hear anything from the Government about the final plan.
“It’s clear that adding capacity to Auckland’s schooling network is not a priority for the new Government like it was for National.
“In 2014, we announced a plan to build nine new schools and additional classrooms in order to deliver the extra 17,000 student places needed in Auckland by 2019. By June 2017, we had delivered 9,000 extra places and were on-track to deliver all 17,000 by 2019.
“We knew that at the rate Auckland was growing, we needed to do more. That’s why we set aside $4.85 billion for school property over four years in Budget 2017.
“That included $240 million just for Auckland in the first year. This money would deliver four new schools, one major school expansion, the relocation of two special education schools, new and replacement classrooms, and additional special education satellite units.
“Auckland urgently needs greater capacity in its school network. Students, parents and teachers deserve better than having to wait six months for the Government to get going.
“The Minister must release the Auckland Education Growth Plan and assure Aucklanders that the money National set aside for adding capacity will be used to do so, and won’t just be eaten up by the $2.8 billion fees free policy for tertiary students.”