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Council provides funds to keep South Learning Centre open

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21 June 2007

Christchurch's South Learning Centre has been given a reprieve until the end of the 2007 academic year - but the City Council has sent a strong message to the Ministry of Education that funding of education is a central government responsibility.

Today's Council meeting agreed to underwrite the cost of $70,000 required to provide a basic teaching service and the associated overhead costs to keep the Centre operational for south Christchurch schools until the end of 2007.

The future of South Learning Centre was placed at risk last month when the Government declined the Council's application to provide continued funding for the facility which delivers leading edge technology and innovative learning opportunities for 23 schools and the local community.

Council had requested an on-going financial commitment from Government for the next five years of $205,000 annually or $20 per student per annum.

Council has since written twice to the Minister of Education Steve Maharey expressing disappointment at the application being declined and asking the Minister to urgently review the decision. With only a week of funding remaining, there has still been no response.

In agreeing to underwrite funding of the Centre to the end of the school year to enable the schools to continue to deliver their programmes and give them time to explore new funding options, Council made it clear that there would be no further funding from the local authority.

"Council has always seen the South Learning Centre as an important partnership between local and central Government to provide a facility which delivers life-long learning opportunities to the schools and community," Mayor Garry Moore said.

"The Council, schools and community have all worked so hard to make this facility a success. I'm at a loss to understand the Ministry's inflexible approach in providing continued funding for the Centre when this an example of funding for success.

"There always seems to be a ready supply of funding for failure," he said.

Set-up in September 2003, following closure of Sydenham School, Government contributed $850,000 to set-up the Centre, a one-off grant to fund expenses related to its use by local schools

Mr Moore said South Learning Centre was an outstanding model of educational innovation and excellence and it was a shame that the project had got to this point.

"Council has asked the Ministry for emergency funding to enable the schools to continue to deliver their programmes to the end of the school year but as there has been no response, we have agreed to underwrite the cost because of the significance this Centre in educating, shaping the lives and making an investment in our young people."