'Impasse' but no principal problem

Cleave Hay
Cleave Hay
Discord among those governing Wanaka Primary School has reached an ''impasse'', the Ministry of Education representative tasked with ironing out issues at the school says.

Dunedin business director Cleave Hay was appointed by the ministry on January 10 as limited statutory manager (LSM) for the school at the request of the board of trustees, after governance problems arose towards the end of last year.

A recent letter to parents from the school's board announcing Mr Hay's appointment referred to ''challenges'' and ''difficulties'' faced by the board, but gave no further details.

Mr Hay said the relationships at governance level had ''come to an impasse'', requiring someone objective to step in.

''I'm not saying they're dysfunctional at the moment, but there's certainly room for improvement. Interventions don't happen lightly - you've got to get to a point where things aren't working to an extent where it needs someone [independent].''

The ministry said this week Wendy Bamford's school principal role was not affected by Mr Hay's appointment. As principal, Dr Bamford is also a trustee and chief executive of the board.

Asked if there was a clash between board members and Dr Bamford, Mr Hay said: ''The relationships aren't wonderful at the board table, but there's no specific issues with the principal.''

Mr Hay would not confirm if the relationship breakdown had stemmed from the school's handling of parent complaints, which former board chairman Richard Cubie cited as his reason for resigning from his role in December. Determining the nature of those complaints and the board's response to them would be part of Mr Hay's job.

''Ultimately, it comes down to did the board follow the right processes in these cases?''There had been ''quite a change'' in the board's members following elections last May.

''And in some cases, from what I do know, it [the issues] was prior to the current trustees.''

Mr Hay starts as LSM at the school next Monday and will work up to 40 hours in the role in the first month.

He would report to the ministry by February 16 with an action plan and timeline for addressing issues identified.

From then, he would spend up to 20 hours a month in the role.

Several board members declined to comment when contacted yesterday.

- lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz