Rolleston College negotiates future of second campus

An artist’s impression of what Rolleston College’s new three-stage senior campus was set to look...
An artist’s impression of what Rolleston College’s new three-stage senior campus was set to look like before it was significantly cut back by the Ministry of Education. Image: Supplied
Rolleston College is pressuring the Ministry of Education for a “written” assurance its second campus will be built.

Principal Rachel Skelton, senior teachers and the head of the school board’s property committee met with ministry officials last week to discuss the cutbacks to its planned senior campus on the corner of Selwyn and Springston Rolleston Rds.

Skelton said “minor progress” was made at the meeting, but the college is still waiting for a written assurance from the ministry it will deliver stages two and three of the campus. Work has already started on stage one.

“I think it is a start and the school in good faith is going to continue to meet,” Skelton said.

Principal Rachel Skelton.
Principal Rachel Skelton.
She also wants the ministry to confirm what the roll count will need to be for work to start on stages two and three.

 “Until we have the identified triggers and something that can go out to the community around that is when the response will be adequate. I want to see another meeting before the end of the term (on April 12).

“I’m the most concerned about stages two and three because stage one isn’t a school.

“The biggest thing we’re still waiting for from the Ministry of Education is a plan around what would trigger continued construction so we can give the community assurance that continued construction is going to happen.

“Our key goal is to have that written down on paper because then it is an assurance. 

“Because you can make statements but until we have something written down we’re not going to accept that.”

The ministry costed the stripped-back campus plan at $52 million – and told Skelton when it announced the cuts it would need to find further savings on top of that.

The plan agreed in December was to cater for years 11-13 in a senior campus 2.5km from the main campus, envisaging the roll would grow to 2100 senior students.

The site works were already done, and billboards had gone up promoting what had been a three-stage build.

Under the revised plan, instead of classrooms the ministry’s proposed makeshift portacom buildings, with no purpose-built fit-outs.

The science and tech block would also undergo minimal alterations, and a gym redesign eliminated all classroom space, spaces for nurses and counsellors and a staffroom.

Ministry head of property Sam Fowler said it will continue to work with the school.

“Further stages of development will continue to grow the campus over time as the college roll grows,” Fowler said. 

“The timing of the delivery of those stages (two and three) will be subject to the student numbers and the funding we receive through future budgets.

“We are working with the college to refine the proposals in order that they support their educational and operational needs.”

Before the ministry announced it was putting stages two and three on hold, the new second campus was set to have three stages, with the first due to be completed by mid 2025.

Stage one is now expected to be completed by the start of 2026. 

The school had invited Selwyn MP Nicola Grigg, Education Minister Erica Stanford and Prime Minster Christopher Luxon to a community meeting, but they all declined.

“We have reached out again to the minister of education and to the prime minster and we are seeking either a meeting with them here, where they can visit the school, or a meeting with them in Wellington.”