Resignations end school board woes

Following recent governance issues at Wanaka Primary School, principal Wendy Bamford and new board of trustees chairman Mike Thomas (right) are focusing on school expansion projects such as construction of the final stage of the school hall (at rear), managed by Calder Stewart foreman Craig Bennett (left). Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Following recent governance issues at Wanaka Primary School, principal Wendy Bamford and new board of trustees chairman Mike Thomas (right) are focusing on school expansion projects such as construction of the final stage of the school hall (at rear), managed by Calder Stewart foreman Craig Bennett (left). Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
A Primary School board of trustees chairman Mike Thomas says the school's governance woes are behind it after two of its board members resigned.

However, one of those trustees cautions there has been a lot of misinformation about the school's problems.

In a statement yesterday, Mr Thomas said the recent resignations of trustees Richard Cubie and Jo McArthur had ''allowed the Wanaka Primary School board of trustees to move forward again and put some of the previous governance issues behind it''.

He declined to elaborate any further on the situation which arose at the school following a breakdown in board relationships late last year.

Ms McArthur said it was ''sad'' the board had been blamed for what had occurred at the school.

''It has had a huge unnecessary emotional toll for me, personally, and on a large number of people.''

The parent representatives on the board had ''always been looking out for the best interests of the school-wide community'' and held the teaching and administration staff in high regard, Ms McArthur said.

''People need to be wary of misinformation that's been given to them.''

She would not comment further at this stage and Mr Cubie declined to make any comment.

In January, Dunedin business director Cleave Hay was appointed by the Ministry of Education as limited statutory manager (LSM) for the school and last month reported there was ''no immediate risk'' to pupils' learning, following the initial scoping period of his appointment.

Mr Cubie had already resigned from his previous role as board chairman in December, giving the school's handling of parent complaints as the reason, but remained as a board member until his resignation last month.

Mr Thomas, appointed as chairman in February, said Ms McArthur resigned last week.

The board had a good relationship with principal Wendy Bamford and Mr Hay and continued to work closely with them both, he said.

''We are pleased with the advice and direction the LSM has provided to the board and expect Mr Hay to continue in his role assisting the board next term.''

Dr Bamford said once Mr Thomas ''took the role of a strong chair and followed correct processes, things started to improve immediately''.

Mr Hay said he could not comment on the resignations as the board had elected to have Mr Thomas as its spokesman.

However, he expected ministry intervention would remain in place at the school until after trustee elections in late November, ''so that I can determine the stability of the board after the election''.

Mr Thomas said the board's focus was now on coping with growth, as the school prepares for a roll of more than 600 pupils by the end the year.

Priority projects include the third and final stage of the $1.1 million school hall, which began two weeks ago.

Increased car parking capacity and building the school's final classroom pod are also in the pipeline.

The board would announce a course of action to replace the vacant positions in the next couple of days, Dr Bamford said.

lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz