Two schools may choose board for each

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by Chris Tobin

A parent survey has been held to consider the possibility of having separate boards of trustees for Geraldine High School and Carew Peel Forest School.

“For some time now our board of trustees have been reviewing how the combined board operates, its effectiveness and efficiency, and discussing the possibility of splitting the governance structure so each school could function independently with its own dedicated board of trustees,” board chairwoman Sally Prattley said.

“However, this is not a decision the current board of trustees can, nor would wish to, make without first seeking and understanding the thoughts and opinions of our school community.

“The establishment of separate boards can only be effective if it has the support of the school community.”

After an initiative by the Ministry of Education, in 2001 a combined board of trustees was formed governing Geraldine High School (503 pupils) and Carew Peel Forest (60 pupils).

A joint caretaker role was established and some administrative duties were shared.

“Fast-forward 19 years and much has changed,” Mrs Prattley said.

“The Ministry of Education initiative to combine boards made little progress, with combined boards being exceptions rather than the rule.

“Our two schools have also grown in student numbers, Geraldine High School by approximately 20% and Carew Peel Forest by approximately 35%. The schools now operate entirely independently of one another with the exception of governance from the combined board of trustees.”

She said the board believed that by disbanding the combined board and each school establishing its own dedicated board of trustees, more effective governance of the individual schools could be achieved.

“Separate boards would allow sole focus on governance of the respective school with greater opportunity to understand the unique character of the school more deeply, and leverage those strengths.

“This would flow through to all aspects of the school including student achievement.

“We also believe separate boards would have more credibility through stronger engagement with their school community. Trustees would be more connected to each individual school which builds the mana, trust and confidence.”

This view was a starting point and was “very much open” to consideration of the feedback to be gained through consultation.

Besides a parent survey, consultation had included articles on both schools’ Facebook pages and in their newsletters, and a parent evening meeting.

“The board was able to answer questions they had and we are now planning a further consultation evening to be run by the New Zealand School Trustees Association.”

The informal evening would explain what was required of board members.