Friday, February 15, 2013

Christchurch Schools' Twilight

Fri 15.02.13. Universal Deceit continued: Last year September 2012, without schools consultations, MOE minister Parata & CERA minister Brownlee had announced closures & mergers of several Christchurch schools. The announcement was a botch up as the MOE hadn't got its facts right. Parata was a stooge for her National masters, a list MP with no electorate mandate.

After at least 3 public protests at places like Cambridge Tce by the Bridge of Remembrance & Netball Courts, Hagley Park, smooth talker Parata (according to PM Key) backtracked & suddenly found it important to visit & "consult" Christchurch school communities. Upshot: Longstone, Pom Education Secretary of the MOE resigned, with a golden handshake.

I was in regular contact with 2 Christchurch schools - Jean Seabrook Memorial School, London St, a private school where Leah taught & South New Brighton School, Estuary Rd. Luke's girlfriend lived near South New Brighton School & dad's taxi, I often drove that way. September 2012, South New Brighton School was slated by the MOE for merging with Central New Brighton School.

Both schools were E suburb schools, London St in the near E, close to the CBD, Estuary Rd in the far E, Southshore, close to Avon / Heathcote Estuary & the Pacific. Both schools were battered by quakes over the last 2 years.

Jean Seabrook Memorial School was close to the CBD Fault, which damaged the CBD in the Boxing Day quake 2010. South New Brighton School was close to the Pegasus Bay Fault which damaged E suburbs in the Xmas quake swarm 2011. Never mind other big quakes shaking Christchurch to hell.

The quakes were bearable as shaking scars healed, but SCIRT infrastructure repairs were unbearable, running sores. For the last 2 years since the 22.02.11 quake, we'd endured road detours while excavations happened all over Christchurch, for water & sewage pipe laying & new infrastructure. SCIRT left repaired excavation road works a mess, the roads more bumpy than quake damages.

22 images, London St, Pavitt St:

15.02.13. Post quake, Jean Seabrook Memorial School / Seabrook McKenzie Centre, London St

15.02.13. Post quake, sewer excavation & renewal, Cumberland St

After 11 000+ quakes over the last 2.5 years, Leah said her pupils were quake stressed. Staff & parents had twice dug Jean Seabrook Memorial School out of liquefaction mud, post 22.02.11 & 13.06.11 quakes. Post Feb 22 quake for weeks, London St was a main thoroughfare joining Bealey Ave & Stanmore Rd. Traffic rumbling shook the school & disturbed staff & kids.

15.02.13. Post quake, road works, Jean Seabrook Memorial School right, London St. Richmond Working Mens Club left

15.02.13. Post quake, Jean Seabrook Memorial School view, Richmond Working Mens Club, London St

15.02.13. Post quake, sewer excavation & renewal, Jean Seabrook Memorial School, Pavitt St

Over 2 years post quakes, there were several Council & SCIRT excavations on London St, all with traffic obstructions & detours. Leah found several different routes to access / egress school. Sometimes excavator machines blocked school gates.

Across the Rd from Leah's school, Cumberland St was detoured & fence cordoned while new sewer pipe excavations progressed. 

There was slow demolition of Richmond Working Mens Club across London St from the school. The club was damaged in the 04.09.10, 22.02.11 & 13.06.11 quakes & part demolished thereafter to make it safe.

15.02.13. Richmond Working Mens Club, quake demolition site, London St

2012-13 full demolition: diggers bashed the club & jolted Leah's school across the road. Leah said the joltings were worse than quakes. Never mind dust & asbestos hazards, affecting the school whenever winds blew. Leah had an eye infection & sometimes battled to breathe. She attributed that to demolition dust the school endured. I suggested she took a mask to school & wear it when not teaching.

3 images, Stanmore Rd:

15.02.13. Stanmore Rd view, quake demolished, Richmond Working Mens Club. Quake survivor, Richmond Methodist Church right was relocated by truck to Marshlands Rd 30.03.16

15.02.13. Richmond Village Green view, part demolished, Richmond Working Mens Club. Richmond Methodist Church right was relocated by truck to Marshlands Rd 30.03.16

The latest SCIRT excavation, beginning early 2013, was in Pavitt St by the school. Every time an excavation machine jolted, the school jolted too. The were more joltings of the school by excavators & passing trucks than quakes.

Leah said workmen warned the school about demolitions & excavations, but that didn't reduce the stress of road detours, loud noises, joltings & dust. Over quake years, two Pom teachers Leah worked with left the school. As Leah taught learning-disabled pupils, highly specialized teaching, Leah had the added stress of training new teachers on-the-job.

On one side, Leah's ground floor classroom was about 30 m from Cumberland St excavation. On the other side her classroom was about 30 m from Pavitt St excavation. Some offices & teaching rooms were about 10 m from Pavitt St excavation. The school playground was about 50 m from Richmond Working Mens Club demolition. Leah was the hell in with demolitions & excavations. Never mind ongoing quakes.

18 images, Pavitt St:

15.02.13. Post quake sewer excavation & renewal, Jean Seabrook Memorial School, Pavitt St

15.02.13. Post quake Pavitt St, sewer renewal view, Richmond Working Mens Club, London St

Down Pavitt St, Richmond School was due for closure as its roll was low. Since the quakes the two schools bonded. Richmond school lent Leah's school toilet facilities, as Leah's school used portaloos for months. They also let Leah's school use Richmond School hall, as Richmond Methodist Church hall, which Leah's school had used, was quake trashed & demolished.

Richmond School was on prime land near the CBD. Closing schools like Richmond School was a land grab, then asset sale by NZ National govt, using taxpayers' money to destroy communities. Not content with land grabbing red zone, residential properties & CBD, red zone, commercial properties, NZ National govt used quakes as an excuse to land grab school properties.

15.02.13. Post quake, Richmond School, Pavitt St. Richmond School closed at the end of 2013 due to low roll.

2011-2012. Estuary Rd by South New Brighton School was twice dug up in a botched SCIRT laying of sewage pipes. SCIRT left Estuary Rd in a Third World state, crap tar seal, pot holed & bumpy, far worse than quake damages.

21 images, Estuary Rd:

15.02.13. Post quake water pipe excavation & renewal, South New Brighton School, Estuary Rd. Central NB School merged with South NB School early 2014

15.02.13. Yellow, Super Silent pump, post quake, water pipe excavation & renewal, South New Brighton School, Estuary Rd

In 2 years since Christchurch quakes, I had one tyre blowout & one tyre puncture, nail in tyre, unprecedented in over 40 years driving in African, UK & European countries. In SA I had occasional punctures & blowouts, but spread over many years.

15.02.13. Post quake, water pipe excavation & renewal, Estuary Rd. Central NB School & South NB School merged early 2014

Early 2013. SCIRT laid water pipes by the pavement before South New Brighton School. Entrances to the school & nearby homes were blocked by a trench, while concrete was laid over pipes. Drivers put up with orange, plastic, road cone detours & cordon fencing by the school & housing.

15.02.13. Steel plate walkway for pedestrians over water pipe excavation & renewal, South New Brighton School, Estuary Rd

15.02.13. Steel plates driveway over water pipe excavation & renewal, South New Brighton School, Estuary Rd

When I picked up Luke at his girlfriend's cordoned house, I drove across steel plates which bridged the road trench, winged by fence cordons & excavator machines. While pumping, a yellow, SUPER SILENT pump shook the cordon fence. When I first parked by the pump the fence shook. I thought it was an earthquake!

That Estuary Rd excavation was small, a bigger sewer excavation went on northwards, along Union St.

Mon 18.02.13, One News. MOE confirmed 12 schools would merge & 7 would close (in effect 13 closures) a reduced number from the September cock up. MOE confirmed closure of Richmond School & merging of Central New Brighton School with South New Brighton School. Freeville School near QE11 would merge with North New Brighton School.

After 5 months of Canterbury schools' angst, Parata showed MOE incompetence & negligence by stopping the closing / merging of another 12 schools announced last September. According to the September MOE announcement, the schools were supposed to be closed / merged because of quakes. Never mind that quake displacements / demographics were just guesswork, as no pre / post quake census figures were used by MOE. 

As for the vast New Brighton / Southshore area, for MOE to chop schools from 4 to 2 was insane. Granted some houses along Avon riversides were red zoned, with people internally displaced in the city, but to close 2 schools & disrupt 4 schools in the area was a MOE cockup. Never mind along Breezes Rd where MOE would rationalize 5 Aranui / Avondale / Wainoni schools into one huge school. That decision was deferred in Parata's "interim" spin till March. (March passed, still no decision by Parata about the Aranui cluster school).

In quake ravaged E suburbs, Wainoni, Aranui, Avondale, Bexley, New Brighton, Southshore, NZ National govt planned to cull 9 schools to 3 schools. National's "brighter future."

Never mind merged kids forced to bus to merged schools with poor bus services. e.g. Phillipstown School merged with Woolston School, where there was no bus service for merged kids. I bet MOE never looked at bus services to & from schools they culled or merged.

In Burnside, Kendal School was closed & Burnside Primary School stayed open for rebuild, although the latter was formerly slated for closure when PM Key said it was riddled with borer. Ha! Ha! Burnside was Brownlee's electorate too.

Branston Intermediate where our sons had done technical subjects was closed, the only technical intermediate in Hornby. Both sons did technical subjects at high schools & chose technical careers. Phillipstown School, where Leah took her school kids for technical subjects, merged with Woolston School. It seemed MOE was against technical subjects.

Tues 18.02.13, The Press article "Parata's 'lie-telling' infuriates principals" showed the deceit of Parata & MOE in their rescheduling September closing / merging deadlines. As an election loomed in 2014, National tidied loose ends in Canterbury education by bringing closure / merger deadlines forward to the end of 2013. Never mind the stress caused in schools. National's "brighter future" was the best Canterbury education taxpayers' $1 billion could buy over the next decade..

NZ National govt used quakes as an excuse to cause huge damage to Canterbury education. e.g. Despite temporary relocation, sharing Van Asch School's Sumner premises, in 2016, Redcliffs School still battled MOE against closure & forced removal to a new school site.

New closure / merger deadlines reported in The Press article:

"Some schools are already planning appeals over the new timelines. Linwood Intermediate's closure has been brought forward to the end of this year.

Lyttelton Main School and Lyttelton West School have been told they will need to combine by the start of 2014 rather than 2016 as initially planned.

South New Brighton and Central New Brighton schools have the same deadlines. [SCIRT hadn't fixed quake trashed NB roads properly yet].

Branston Intermediate will close in January next year - a year earlier than originally planned. [Yet Hornby was booming with industrial & commercial growth. The new S motorway turnoff onto Halswell Junction Rd had increased traffic through Hornby over the last months].

Kendal School will now have to close by the end of the year, rather than by 2016.

Manning Intermediate may close a year earlier and North New Brighton and Freeville will merge two years earlier than expected..."

That wasn't counting the planned merging of 5 Aranui / Avondale / Wainoni schools - decision in March.

Twilight, Mon 17.02.13: Hazard lights flashing, I drove down Restart Cashel Mall to fetch a rimu cabinet & fish tank which Luke bought from quake trashed Pagoda Restaurant, Colombo St. Restart Cashel Mall container shops were closed, tourists wandered about. 

Pagoda Restaurant was still 22.02.11 quake trashed, furniture scattered. I looked across The Crossing cordon fence into the Red Zone CBD at demolition sites & dead bldgs, no lights on. Te Waipounamu House was still being demolished. For Brownlee to spin the CBD Red Zone as Rebuild Zone was laughable, no CBD rebuild so far.

Hazard lights flashing, when I drove back along Cashel Mall, a sunset glow silhouetted Bridge of Remembrance arch.

Tues 18.02.13. One News reported that 1 500 protesting teachers, parents & school kids had marched from CBS Arena to Education Ministry offices, Princess St, protesting closures / mergers & new deadlines.

*Wandered London St, Pavitt St, Stanmore Rd, Estuary Rd.

Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Christchurch schools overhaul 'botched' (The Press / Stuff Co).

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