Stop the Sale of our School
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PETITION AGAINST THE PROPOSED SALE OF PROPERTY AT HOLY FAMILY COLLEGE (PARKTOWN CONVENT), PARKTOWN, JOHANNESBURG.
As teachers, staff, parents, present and past pupils and friends of Holy Family College, we express our outrage at the intention of the Provincial Council of the Sisters of the Holy Family in South Africa to sell off a third of the school to private business developers, who intend demolishing all the buildings and play area and constructing a 4-storey office block).
The proposed area includes Rose Cottage (the school’s Foundation Phase), all its classrooms, the entire play area, as well as the play area for the school’s Intermediate Phase (Gr4 to 6), the parking area for the school taxis, and the school’s only soccer field.
The result of this sale going through, in our opinion, will be disastrous for the future of the College. Firstly, to relocate the Foundation Phase to the other side of the school property is not feasible: it would require major construction, including an entire new building to house the eight classes, the removal of staff who have been living on the premises for DECADES, the construction of new access points for vehicles... The estimated cost will far exceed the R3 million that will be given to the school for the project.( An estimate of R11 000/m2 for a classroom of 100m2 means that it will cost R1.1 million per classroom!) The school simply does not have such capital. Most importantly, there is simply not enough outdoor play area for 100 Foundation Phase children to move around freely.
Secondly, the school has been informed that should the proposed sale be accepted by the Sisters, then the school must evacuate the area by the end of this year! This is impossible – an entire new section cannot be built by year –end! The only solution would be to shut down the Foundation Phase of the school. Teachers will lose their jobs – contrary to the promises made to the staff in a “consultation” in 2014 by the Sisters that no jobs will be affected.
Thirdly, the unethical and undemocratic process that was followed in reaching the decision to sell the property cannot remain unchallenged. One of the prospective buyers served as the chair of the school’s Finance Committee for a number of years. He had never declared his conflict of interest to the school’s board. He was supposedly serving the best interests of the school as a board member, while privately negotiating with the Sisters to buy up the land! The Sisters never consulted with the Holy Family Schools Council, set up to oversee the schools, before deciding to sell the property.
WE call on the Sisters to abandon the sale of ANY of their schools; to instead re-commit themselves to the growth and development of their schools; to see the schools as still being a part of the work and vision of the Holy Family, and together with the schools develop a way forward that assists them as well.
Lower-end private schools are thriving in South Africa at the moment, many seeking to purchase more land to allow them to grow. We see this in the growing numbers enrolled in our school’s Foundation Phase over the past few years. It makes no sense to go against this trend.
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