Salisbury School closure a bitter blow for families

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Salisbury School’s closure is a foregone conclusion, the Public Service Association says - despite empty promises of consultation from Education minister Hekia Parata.

The Nelson boarding school caters for girls with high and complex needs, but its roll has fallen dramatically due to the government’s insistence they be put into the Intensive Wraparound Service.

The PSA represents around 20 employees at the school and all will lose their jobs.

Ms Parata says consultation over a proposed closure in January 2017 is under way, but the PSA says staff have been told a decision has already been made.

"This news is a disaster for the pupils of Salisbury School, their families and the community it serves," PSA National Secretary Erin Polaczuk says.

"Ms Parata says the school is now very expensive to run, but its falling roll is a direct consequence of decisions her government has made.

"She says the Intensive Wraparound Service is catering better to these students, but it does not suit all the girls who would otherwise come to Salisbury.

"The limitations of the Service means it is not always able to address the needs of all the girls who would benefit from residential care.

"These girls need support and security, not the continued threats of disruption that this government has made."

Ms Parata says Halswell Residential College’s application to become co-educational may affect her decision about whether to close Salisbury School.

"Meanwhile, Nelson MP Nick Smith has said the school cannot justify its use of a prime eight-hectare site in the city," Ms Polaczuk says.

"That’s a clear sign the government has other priorities - and it’s already made up its mind.

"We urge Ms Parata to put these girls first - and reconsider this cruel decision."