School principals in the dark from Ministry of Education over halted classroom construction

School principals say they're "in the dark" about the future of much-needed extra classrooms due to be built this year.  

Some schools have only recently become aware construction won't be starting and now they're in limbo, with no formal written communication from the Ministry of Education about when it might.  

Pāpāmoa College was expecting a brand-new gymnasium to be built. They even knocked down three classrooms to make room for it. 

But now the school has heard informally construction is on hold. 

"To date, we have got no formal written communication from the ministry telling us anything otherwise - so we are living in a really uncertain world," said Iva Ropati, principal of Pāpāmoa College. 

The $65 million building project was agreed to years ago.  

Four of the buildings have been delivered but the final two, including the gym, are now up in the air. 

Ropati told Newshub his 1800 students are already sharing class spaces. 

"Our roll continues to grow every year by about 50 to 100, we're going to be in a much worse situation very shortly," he said. 

Christchurch's Cashmere High School is facing a similar problem. 

It was promised a two-storey 14-classroom technology block that would be ready to use by 2025. 

Preparation was meant to start during the summer holidays - but it didn't.  

"The first information we had was, I think, from the architects and not from the ministry themselves," said Joe Eccleton, principal of Cashmere High School. 

Eccleton, who also represents the Canterbury West Coast Secondary Principals Association, said other schools have had projects halted - and he's written to Education Minister Erica Stanford about communication concerns.   

His 2300 students are fitting into a 2000-capacity campus.  

"We are getting to a crisis point most definitely and, if something doesn't change, we are going to be in a crisis," Eccleton said. 

Since September, several building projects - like the one at Pāpāmoa College - have been paused while cost-effective options were explored, the education ministry told Newshub. 

"When I became minister, I was made aware by the Ministry of Education that they have a pipeline of projects that they are unable to deliver on," said Stanford. "So, I have been, over the last few months, getting to the bottom of that; finding out the scale of the issue and we'll have more to say in the coming days," she added.