Notes on a Decade of School Committee and School Affairs 1965-1975
I was fortunate to serve ten years on the Pakowhai school committee. For the first four years I served as an ordinary member, then six years as secretary/treasurer (or as the late John Sykes was wont to describe the job, “Mr Scribe”)
John. You hit the nail on the head!
There was a lot of handwriting, cheque writing, letter writing of protests and committees efforts to demand the very best from everyone, Education Board hierarchy to trades people.
Yes! We demanded! We got the best deal we could for our school, but I’m sure, so did those many committees from 1875 to 1965, and onwards from 1975 to 1990 when the School committee era came to a close, and the modern day Tomorrows schools saw the much more demanding Board of Trustees commence their work and deliberations.
Theirs seems a much more daunting task. For one thing, they are elected to serve three years, to our two. It would be fair to say, we were often rail-roaded back to serve at least a further term “en-bloc” if the biennial Householders meeting thought we were willing and able, and could be able to ﬁre the shots as it were.
Thinking back, ours was a more laid back style of committee. We enjoyed the meetings. It was like an Old Boy’s club to some extent. District gossip was exchanged and we listened to the gripes of the various headmasters, usually with sympathy, followed with prompt action!
Perhaps its signiﬁcant that over this decade, the committee members were always males, as were the head teachers who attended each meeting. Very rarely did a female teacher ask to attend. I don’t know the reason for this all-male committee – but maybe householders meetings at biennial elections felt that men were best suited to mow school grass, paint baths, tidy grounds, and run bottle and paper drives. The district had a strong C.W.I. and predominantly it was mothers who transported children to and from school. Those regular school visits provided exchange of news and views of school affairs with the teaching staff.
Looking back through the minutes and correspondence, several things stand out.
Firstly, the very high calibre of teaching staff. They were without exception enthusiastically committed to the progress and welfare of pupils and school.
Secondly we always counted on wonderful support from the district in school needs and events. The school was a rallying point for the whole district as it always had been back to when it was ﬁrst established.
School rolls varied a lot – and it was a bold step to deliberately “be-head” the school and encourage families to send lst and 2nd form pupils to the Intermediates. This was thought to be better preparation for attendance at High School
From the committee’s point of view the event of the decade was the new school building and the tremendous struggle to have it properly and completely ﬁnished by the time of the 75th Jubilee.
It seemed to be a never ending battle to get the buildings ﬁnished and useable. And of course, while the new “Pre fab” school units were under construction, school was conducted in the old building which had been moved several feet to the north, and was sitting on blocks out on the basketball court. No wonder principal Harold Frost was frustrated and took his woes to us. Either Harold, or John Sykes related part of a conversation with contractor Ernie Dudding who boasted with pride. “Yes and we never used a plumb-bob on the lot!”. The new school sure looked like it too!
Nothing seemed vertical. Floors creaked. Roof expansion noises were very persistent, and corrections for poor workmanship were for ever being made.
A jerry building job was what Pakowhai got. Just listen to a quote from our letter of complaint to Mr P L Page the General manager of the HB Education Board 8/7/1969-
1 Completion date promised (in writing)