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Boy at SLCCouncil provides funds to keep South Learning Centre open

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22 June 2007

The Christchurch City Council has agreed to underwrite the funding to keep the South Learning Centre operational until the end of the 2007 academic year, enabling the 23 south Christchurch schools which rely on the Centre to continue to deliver their programmes.

It is important schools and the community understand this is a six-month reprieve and that they must continue to be pro-active in lobbying Government during the next six months to secure alternative funding to keep the South Learning Centre operational beyond December 2007.

In agreeing to underwrite the $70,000 in funding required to provide a basic teaching service and the associated overhead costs for this service to schools, the Council has also sent a strong message to the Ministry of Education that funding of education is a central government responsibility.

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

Council, in a joint proposal with the schools, had requested an on-going financial commitment from Government for the next five years of $205,000 or $20 per student per annum.

Council has since written twice to the Minister of Education Steve Maharey expressing disappointment that the application was declined and asking the Minister to urgently review the decision. With funding coming to the end on 30 June, there has still been no response.

In agreeing to underwrite funding for 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 will 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 the community.

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. South Learning Centre is an outstanding model of educational innovation and excellence.

Council had 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 had been no response, agreed to underwrite the cost because of the significance of the Centre in educating, shaping the lives and making an investment in our young people.

Council will continue to seek Government funding for this service through urgent presentations to local Members of Parliament, the Minister of Education and the Prime Minister.

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