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Redcliffs School gets reprieve from govt

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 6/07/2016 By Sarah Robson

Christchurch's Redcliffs School won't be closed, but there are no guarantees it'll return to its original site.

Education Minister Hekia Parata on Thursday announced she had reversed her interim decision to close the school permanently over earthquake safety concerns.

The school's future has hung in the balance since 2011, when it was forced to move to a temporary site in Sumner because of the risk of rockfalls following the magnitude 6.3 February quake.

More than six months after Ms Parata's initial decision, two new options have been put on the table: the school will either return to its old site, albeit on a smaller footprint and with the construction of a mitigation bund, or it will move to a new location.

"Based on expert engineering advice, I am advised that the concerns leading to my interim decision have been addressed," Ms Parata said.

However, she wants the psychosocial impacts of ongoing rockfalls on students to be assessed before a final decision is made.

While that happens, alternative sites for the school will be looked into, but Ms Parata couldn't guarantee that the school would remain in Redcliffs if it was to move to a new site.

Her preference is to find an alternative location for the school.

"I think if we can find an alternative site that doesn't have the complexities of the Main Road site, I think that would be best for the Redcliffs School and for the community," Ms Parata told reporters.

"The response I've had from the (school's board of trustees) is that they are very keen to look at what the alternatives might be."

Redcliffs School principal Rose McInerney said the minister's decision is a massive relief.

"It's what we've worked incredibly hard for and our community is going to be absolutely delighted with this decision," she told reporters at parliament following the meeting with Ms Parata.

The school's pupils had been told and Ms McInerney said she'd heard they were "lifting the roof of the gym".

"Texts and emails are coming through thick and fast, everyone is delighted because this is the decision we were really hoping and banking on," Ms McInerney said.

The school also tweeted: "108 YEARS NOT OUT!!"

A decision on whether the school can return to its original site, or whether relocation is feasible, is expected by mid-October.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the council will work closely with the Ministry of Education to look at potential alternative sites.

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