New Zealand

A ministry accused of “toxic” culture in dealing with the earthquake reconstruction of Christchurch School

The Ministry of Education opposed expert advice at the earthquake-damaged school in Christchurch, and documents show that it was disturbing and misleading, suffering from spiral problems and costs.

The ministry was forced to apologize three times when they ran into school leadership when asking questions.

Mike Ray, chair of the Christchurch Girls’ High School board from 2013 to 2018, said the ministry’s “toxic” culture hasn’t changed, from a long (and unfinished) drama to other schools. I warn you to learn.

“We tried to express our concerns many times, but we weren’t listening,” Ray said.

“Ten years after the quake, and the concerns we raised at the time, became a reality, and I estimated that $ 10 million worth of taxpayer money was wasted.

“Where is accountability?”

Despite a 50% increase in budget from $ 27 million to $ 40 million, the block of the main 35 classrooms in a decile 10 public school is secure but unfinished.

When the ministry failed the job and Ray tried to make it accountable. He says they chased him.

“In front of the staff, they called me a health and safety risk.

“They really, really doubled just because I asked them for an explanation.”

A senior ministry manager told Ray that one of their employees filed a formal complaint against him when they didn’t.

“It’s a broader issue,” he said.

“If the school says, they certainly make it very difficult. They have the power behind them and they choose you as an individual school.

“That’s where schools need to work more collectively.”

According to the ministry, all Ray’s problems, including the ombudsman and the Directorate General of Audit, were being investigated.

He refused the interview and instead, in a brief statement, focused on the school acquiring a new art center, repairing the gym, and spending $ 25 million so far.

“There’s still a lot to do and we keep in touch with the school on a regular basis,” said Kim Shannon, Head of Educational Infrastructure Services.

Principal Girls High and current President Julian Bowden did not comment except that they had positive expectations for the meeting scheduled for November 4.

The ministry has completed 58 of 115 schools under the 10-year Christchurch School Reconstruction Program launched in 2013. The ministry says most schools are still ready by 2023, but that is behind schedule.

“Several projects in large secondary schools have already begun, but will continue after 2022/23 as the school is staged to keep it fully functional,” Shannon said. Says.

In the 2018 interim review, the $ 1.13 billion budget was raised from $ 150 million to $ 300 million, up to $ 1.38 billion.

The construction of Christchurch Girls is characterized by soaring costs and the response of “terrible wrong” ministries, said Ray, a certified public accountant who runs his company in Leeston.

Documents such as emails, letters, ministerial notes, and the discovery of the ombudsman confirm his account.

They show that the ministry did not provide important information to the school’s reconstruction team:

  • The ministry aims to strengthen the main block to 44% of the seismic code (or new construction standard, NBS), not 67%, which the school promised.
  • The consultant advised the ministry not to start work at the end of 2017-it just started, and the problems and costs swelled.
  • It applied and got an additional $ 13 million.

“They are pretty worried about wasting taxpayers’ money,” Ray said.

Project manager RDT told the province in March 2015 that bowling and replacing the main block would be millions of dollars cheaper than strengthening and could be rebuilt on more stable land away from the river.

Ground engineering consultants believed that the ground was so poor that a “worst case” scenario of $ 34 million in charges would occur if the retention and repair options were selected.

Still, a few days later, the ministry told Ray: “It is still the ministry’s view that the main block repair option is the most viable and cost-effective option.”

The main block remained the same.

This meant that the school’s alternative performing arts center had to be built next to it, even on unstable lands. Lay believes this adds $ 3 million to the project completed in 2017, when the goal was 2015.

According to Ray, bureaucrats were making decisions about property they were not eligible to make.

“Dating back to 2013 … we said your budget doesn’t cover telling us what you’re trying to do.”

“They are starting to make it happen,” he said, looking for “shortcuts” with a 44 percent NBS goal.

“CGHS believes the original budget base is flawed,” said the minutes of a school meeting with the ministry in December 2015.

The ministry admitted that the three-month period to fix the main block was “risk,” but was able to manage it, the minutes said.

The school “did not think they were aware” of the 44 percent NBS decision, the minutes added.

“We discovered this through a contractor and warned us of the fact that they were instructed to design to lower standards,” Mike Ray said.

“There, a battle began between our school and the ministry, ensuring that we had up to 67 percent of the buildings in the code.”

In essence, Ray said it was a versatile school restructuring approach that didn’t fully consider what individual schools needed.

The inflexible approach to school property funding was erroneous in the 2017 Audit Director’s report.

The school claimed 67% and won-but this blew away the costs.

According to Ray, it was a mess for the students, but it was a killer.

In early 2017, the board expressed “extreme concern” in a statement on the ministry’s performance and delays in the “most dangerous stages of reconstruction” of the turmoil.

Later that year, even when experts told not to start strengthening the main block, the ministry wanted to foresee a major problem and move forward.

Anyway, the ministry has advanced.

“They ignored the consultant’s advice and continued to build,” Ray said.

“They were never transparent to us about the fact that the consultants advised us not to go any further.

“They were obliged to let us know, but they never did.”

According to the document, the ministry estimated that the school did not want a delay, which meant that the summer vacation of 2017-18 was not available.

Work has begun, but by April 2018 it was completely restricted to non-class hours to avoid class interruptions and slowdowns.

The cost has exploded. Early stop was called. The main block is safe, but remains unfinished.

The ministry acquired $ 13.7 million in additional funding in April 2018, boosting the school’s own budget by 50%.

But it didn’t tell the school this.

The ombudsman explained what happened in May of this year when Mike Ray asked if he had applied for additional funding. “The ministry’s first response was misleading and seemed inconsistent.”

“It continued to dismiss his concerns. The ministry is now explaining the situation, but has not apologized for the confusion caused by the statement.”

Now it is.

Ray received three apologies from the latest Secretary of Education, Iona Horstead, in June of this year.

She said she should have explained to him about a consultant instructing him not to start the build.

“We also apologize for the confusion caused by our statement regarding the application for funding,” Holstead wrote.

“In both situations, we needed to better explain these situations from the beginning. We’re sorry about how to address the concerns you raised in this regard.

“I admit that these failures on our part have caused you considerable concern and frustration over the years.”

The ministry now believes that these issues have been resolved.

Around 2018, the ministry told Mike Ray that staff had filed formal complaints against him. This email uses the terms “threatening,” “harassment,” and “bullying.”

But that wasn’t true-there were no formal complaints.

Secretary of Education Iona Holstead apologized, but claimed that her staff had real concerns about his actions.

Ray told the principal at the time that he had made all the sacrifices to the board.

“For fairness, Iona Holstead apologized … she recognized some of those issues, but it comes at a cost.

“I’ve heard stories from other schools lately and I think this is exactly the same problem I’ve experienced,” said the board and the principal.

“It’s been repeated. Yes, I apologize, but what changes have you made?

“I see the behavior and toxic culture that exists within the province.

“No one wants to roll their heads, but they have to be prepared to change their attitude.”

Ray in June of this year sought to raise the issue of school reconstruction with the Minister of Education, but Chris Hipkins told him “your concerns are working.”

In the 2017 campaign, Labor promised to form a new governing group to help rebuild. It didn’t do that, but told that concerns had been addressed.

The ministry told Hypkins in December 2017 that the “whole” redevelopment under the Christchurch Girls’ reconstruction program “is likely to be completed in 2018-19.” Twelve tasks have been completed and four projects have progressed.

The ministry told that the reconstruction of Christchurch School has so far spent $ 758 million out of $ 1.3 billion.

“It is one of the country’s most modern educational networks, with 2,400 refurbished new educational spaces, more than 80% of which are innovative learning environments.”

The purpose of the program is to:

  • Build 13 new schools on the new site.
  • Rebuild 10 schools.
  • Redevelop 92 schools in 10 years.

“We plan to complete the project at 17 schools in the next 12 months,” said Kim Shannon.

There were 31 projects in the design and planning stages, 19 under construction and 5 were put up for bidding.

One decile school asks the priority.
And Principal Wellington, who is fighting the ministry, said it was clear that the division of property had been broken.

Darryl Aim, Principal of Natone Park School in Waitangilua, Porirua, said: “I entered was like a scandal, a leak in the roof. On rainy days, I had to put a bucket between the Kapahaka kids.

“There is widespread flooding throughout the school. While we are talking, black mold is still exposed. There are doubts about the air quality of the school.”

He said the Ministry of Education guaranteed the school that the building could be used safely.

The roof repair was almost completed, saying “it was about 5 years too late”.

“We can see a little light at the end of the tunnel, but it is currently difficult to work inside the building in collaboration with ministries.”

He felt that the ministry was “very evasive when it comes to tackling school problems.”

Aim said he thought the ministry’s property sector had “systematic” problems.

“I’m wondering why 10 decile schools are rebuilding, refurbishing, and refurbishing. Schools with 1 decile have water, that is, moist, exposed mold, and within the school. I’m having a hard time doing important work. “

A ministry accused of “toxic” culture in dealing with the earthquake reconstruction of Christchurch School

Source link A ministry accused of “toxic” culture in dealing with the earthquake reconstruction of Christchurch School

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