A half-a-million-dollar investment in the Edendale School grounds will “future-proof the school for all children”, principal David McKenzie says.
The project includes the removal of trees, hedges, fences, gates, pathways and tennis and netball courts in front of the school.
The end result will be a new driveway with additional car parking, lunch-bay seating, a new centre pathway, new gates, fences, enhanced drainage and new tennis and netball courts.
Mr McKenzie said a government directive in 2000 advised schools they should be able to accommodate all children in the community regardless of their learning needs.
“That meant any child with any special needs should be able to come in,” Mr McKenzie said.
“A significant portion of [the project] is upgrading the school facilities to ensure that those children who don’t completely get safety can come here.
“It’s to future-proof the school for all children in the community.”
Some aspects of the development were timely, such as the replacement of the courts, because they needed maintenance.
Originally made of concrete, the courts had already been resurfaced in 2000.
“The asphalt was breaking up and so it needed a significant investment to push us through to the future years.
“We were experiencing age wear and tear conditions that needed to be sorted, and sorted well.”
Water did not drain away very easily in heavy rain and two new soak holes should help with that.
The community and school valued physical activity and sport, he said.
“To be able to have quality hard all-weather surfaces is a must.
“We know that our community is a strong user of our facilities after school, in the weekends and during the holidays, and so the benefit of this project extends beyond our school’s operational hours.”
The board of trustees, spanning several election cycles, had been working to bring the project together.
“It is very satisfying to see this hard work become a reality.”
It was one of the most significant projects that had been undertaken at the school since the early 1960s, when the school was rebuilt, he said.
“We anticipate that it will take rest of this term and possibly into the early part of term four before we see this whole package of upgrades come together and be completed.”
Funding for the project came from a variety of sources, including the Southland District Council, the Ministry of Education and the Edendale Home and School Association.
The next stage in the project would be to plant a native tree area to attract birdlife and be an area of learning for future generations coming to the school, he said.