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  • Dec 24, 2014
  • Updated: 11:29pm
NewsHong Kong

HKIS rejects interim school site at Hung Hom

Elite school halts HK$1 billion redevelopment project indefinitely as a temporary Hung Hom site is deemed too polluted for pupils

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 January, 2013, 4:34am

The redevelopment of the Hong Kong International School's Repulse Bay campus has been put on hold after the management rejected a second temporary site offered by the Education Bureau.

The school has decided to drop its plan to move its lower primary pupils to the Hung Hom site currently occupied by the English Schools Foundation's Kowloon Junior School.

The school had earlier rejected an offer to relocate to Chai Wan, a 25-minute drive away, citing transport issues.

The school confirmed yesterday that the redevelopment had been put on hold indefinitely until a suitable temporary site could be identified.

"The HKIS board and administration remain committed to our lower primary redevelopment project at our Repulse Bay campu s," a spokeswoman said in response to an inquiry from the South China Morning Post.

"We do not have an exact start date for the project, as we cannot begin construction until we find a place to relocate our students."

The school had planned to start the three-year project in August last year after moving some 500 pupils to a temporary location.

But following complaints from the Repulse Bay community, the school scaled down the development plan, which now includes a staff residence and school building of up to eight storeys, rather than 18, as originally planned.

The new plans were approved by the Town Planning Board in June last year.

Failing to start the HK$1 billion redevelopment would mean that the school will not be able to add 200 extra new international primary level places in the next few years, as previously planned.

An Education Bureau spokeswoman said both the Chai Wan and Hung Hom sites were offered to the school after considering its preferences.

However, parents complained in a letter to Head of School Kevin Dunning in November that the Hung Hom site on Gillies Avenue South would be harmful to pupils' health.

The stated various reasons, including the proximity to emissions from traffic and car repair shops, as well as joss paper and incense burning at a nearby temple and funeral houses.

"We have made this decision to live in a polluted city on behalf of our children as well, but we do our best to keep them away from ... heavy pollutants," said the letter, written by Richard and Kat Price, parents of a girl enrolled at the school.

It is now unclear how the school can start the project as the Education Bureau says the Hung Hom site is the only one of four vacant school premises suitable for temporary use.

The three others have been slated for other projects, the bureau said.

HKIS is one of the most expensive international schools in Hong Kong, charging more than HK$160,000 per year - including an annual capital levy - for lower primary pupils for the current academic year.

Hung Hom District Councillor Pius Yum Kwok-tung said that while he had received complaints about the funeral parlours in the district, the Kwun Yam temple had fitted in well with the community.

He added that the Gillies Avenue South site had been used as a school for decades. Yum believed the school's rejection was more likely to be related to its distance from the Repulse Bay campus.


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As a parent of children that attend HKIS, allow me to assure the readership and hatemongers below that most HKIS parents who protested against the Hung Hom campus move did so primarily because of distance. Pollution was only one of multiple other secondary factors. Rather than looking at this as a haughty display of entitled expats forcing their will, it is best construed as a group of concerned parents joining hands to protest on behalf of their children. Simply, it is a victory for concerned parents, regardless of where you live. Surely, in a city like Hong Kong where protest is as much a tradition as cha siu faan and dragon boat races, there should be some appreciation for this unified group of passionate parents, who fought the fight, and won. If you can't appreciate that, perhaps you have been sucking on too many 1000-year old eggs...
All these idiots! The ESF students and all the locals can survive in these places and not their prince and princess. Why don't they all go away!! Hong Kong is famous for the polluted air!!!
Read with a dose of salt. In the 45 years HKIS has been around, plenty of students and their expat parents have lived in blissful ignorance of anything that happened outside of Repulse Bay, Tai Tam, Central, and Kai Tak/Chek Lap Kok. That somebody wafted joss smoke into what is essentially an argument for not busing kids to Kowloon is, er, a smoke screen. Probably if we could afford to pay top dollar for HKIS we would try to throw our weight around too.
Whilst I do agree that citing transportation and pollution issues as reasons not to move to Chai Wan is fairly conceited, it must be said that these HKIS parents are not a silly bunch. Has anyone considered that these parents may be trying to intentionally delay the move to a temporary campus in order to justify the exorbitant tuitions they are paying, and more significantly, the difficulty of getting their child accepted at such an 'exclusive' school? After all, your equivalent to the J.P. Morgan CEOs of this world would be fully aware of the clout they hold with the school board; especially in an American institution which holds Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) sacred.
After reading this article, I am more convinced I've failed in my duty as a mother. Because we are not affluent like HKIS and other top of the crop international school parents, we are not able to give the kind of protection every child deserves. Not only do my poor kids have to contend with poor quality education and substandard cultural capital, but also with the kind of pollution HKIS parents can keep their blessed children away from.
My hope is that my kids will be born to better off parents if there is such a thing as reincarnation.
What a bunch of spoiled snots. So the sites are good enough for grubby ESF students and less wealthy locals but not good enough for the entitled kids of overpaid expats. Good, so let them run out of space and facilities. Poor things. They'll just have to find a spare acre or two at their massive Tai Tam campus.


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