Richmond’s Salisbury School could close in January in a move its board says is “unbelievably short-sighted”.
Education Minister Hekia Parata on Thursday announced she had initiated consultation with the school’s board over its future.
“The … boarding school has a long history of educating girls with high and complex needs but the successful implementation of the Intensive Wraparound Service [IWS] has reduced the demand for residential schooling,” Parata said.
Salisbury School caters to girls from years 3 to 11 who have high, complex needs.
The school’s board of trustee’s chairman, John Kane, said the announcement was not surprising, but was devastating and “unbelievably short-sighted.”
Schools exist if students wish to go to them. Their roll has dropped from 72 to nine.
Parata said since 2011, the roll at Salisbury had fallen from 72 to nine, pushing the per-student cost of educating girls at the school up to $214,909. In comparison, the average cost of providing support through the Intensive Wraparound Service was $27,000.
“The high cost of continuing to fund Salisbury School for a very small number of students versus the significantly lower cost and higher demand for IWS raises questions about the most effective use of resources for students with high and complex needs,” she said.
At $215,000 per student you could hire each of them two dedicated teachers at home!
Nelson MP Nick Smith said he accepted the school could not go on in its current form.
“You cannot justify $2 million a year, 42 fulltime and part-time staff and the use of a prime eight-hectare site for nine pupils,” Smith said.
“The situation next year becomes even more untenable, with seven of the nine pupils completing their programme under the usual practice for residential schooling.”
Smith said the decline in the roll at Salisbury to “unsustainable levels” was because most families were choosing intensive, localised support.
So next year the school may only have two pupils, yet they still demand to remain open.
And if parent choose intensive localised support over sending their kids to Salisbury – that’s their decision.