Wan Chai school delays relocation amid opposition
A private school in Wan Chai has put its controversial move to new premises on hold in the face of strong opposition from parents and looming challenges from some members of the sponsoring body.
A board member of the Lingnan Education Organisation (LEO), the sponsoring body of Lingnan Primary School and Kindergarten on Stubbs Road, confirmed that the board had decided to delay the relocation until September next year. It had originally planned to complete the move by the end of next month.
The LEO intended to move the kindergarten to Siu Sai Wan, though it has not said where the primary pupils could go. Some kindergarten classes will shift in February if the organisation is able to register its proposed temporary premises in Siu Sai Wan next month.
The school's operator has said the relocation is to allow for safety issues at the existing site to be resolved. It told parents that unauthorised works in the kindergarten building had made the premises unsafe.
The relocation announcement came shortly after an adjoining site was sold to a property developer, prompting vehement protests from parents who questioned the school's motives. However, board chairman David Chan said the lots were zoned for government, institution or community use and added: 'There is no application to change the lease or rezone the site concerned.'
The controversy took a further twist two months ago when the government concluded, after an inspection, that the existing school premises did not pose a danger. Chan then launched a full study of the building's safety.
The LEO board decided to delay the move in a meeting on December 20, a member said.
If the registration documents for the Siu Sai Wan premises were obtained before January 16, the kindergarten would shift in February, the board decided. Primary pupils would remain in the current premises until the end of this academic year, it decided.
The classes are scheduled to begin moving in June, in time for completion by September.
Some parents said they had not been formally told about the latest decisions.
Chan has pledged to redevelop the existing site and move pupils back when it is ready. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The challenge for Chan, who seems intent on pushing ahead with the relocation, will only intensify. Some board members voiced safety concerns but said the move should be justified. 'The children are now in a clear state of uncertainty and anxiety. We will not jeopardise the well-being of the children,' one board member said.
In a gesture of protest, some board members refused to attend the annual general meeting on December 20, when the postponement decision was made.
Legislator Tanya Chan said the surveyor report commissioned by David Chan must be revealed to the public when it was completed, because if there was no evidence that the school was in danger, it should not move.
She also urged the school to finalise its decision soon. 'You cannot delay it every few months. It is irresponsible and unfair to the children.'
The Education Bureau wrote to the school in October, saying there was no need to move. It said: 'The decision to relocate the school should not be associated with the structural safety of the school buildings or matters requiring any enforcement action under the Buildings Ordinance.'