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Protesters fight school closures

21:30 Tue Feb 19 2013
Principals and parents are distraught about the Christchurch school closures but the government isn't likely to change its mind this time.
Principals and parents are distraught about the Christchurch school closures but the government isn't likely to change its mind this time (Getty).

More than a thousand angry parents, principals, teachers and pupils have marched through Christchurch protesting the closure of seven schools and the merger of 12 others.

Their target was Education Minister Hekia Parata, who announced the decisions on Monday.

She says population shifts caused by the earthquake and falling rolls left the government with no option.

Parents and principals don't accept that and their placards said "Parata is poison" and "We want what we were promised - to the end of 2014".

The date referred to what some principals say they were promised - that their schools could stay open until the end of next year.

The deadline for the closures announced on Monday is the end of this year.

Earlier in parliament Ms Parata denied she promised any schools they wouldn't have to close until the end of next year.

"I did not make that promise," Ms Parata said.

"I repeatedly made it clear that it was a proposal that we were inviting feedback on."

The schools have until March 28 to make submissions on the government's decisions - including when they close.

Central New Brighton School principal Toni Burnside says they are "gutted" the date of the proposed merger with South New Brighton School has been brought forward.

"In September, the minister announced that no merger would take place before 2016. She has now brought this date forward to January 2014," Ms Burnside said on the school's website.

"This means that after 124 years of being an integral part of the community this will the last year for education at Central New Brighton School."

Ms Parata says there were about 5000 places available in schools in greater Christchurch before the earthquakes and 4300 students haven't re-enrolled, meaning there are now 9300 places available.

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