An international primary school in Tin Hau facing eviction next year says the government is forcing it into a Catch-22 situation by offering a temporary site while refusing to grant it a permanent home. The Education Bureau said it had identified a vacant school campus in Kowloon, with an area of over 2,800 square metres, for the International Montessori School to use as a temporary "decanting" campus and that the offer would be subject to a "clear and feasible exit plan". The bureau said how long the school could use the site would be determined by details of the exit plan but it had not received any plan from the school so far. School co-founder Anne Sawyer said it was impossible for the primary school, which has 350 pupils at the Tin Hau campus, to meet the condition. "The reality is that schools cannot be viable in Hong Kong without government support because the land is not available or is prohibitively expensive," said Sawyer. "So it's a Catch-22: until the government tells us what permanent site we could have, we cannot take the decanting site." The 13-year-old school's lease expires in July next year and the landlord, the Hong Kong Construction Association, has made it clear that the school cannot stay. The school unsuccessfully applied for two government sites in the bureau's latest site allocation exercise for international school development. Three of the five sites up for grabs went to elite school operators from Britain and Dubai. Sawyer said the school had been required to move three times since founding. Facing criticism that overseas operators were given priority over home-grown schools, a bureau spokesman said the allocation exercise had been "open and competitive". The bureau and an allocation committee considered each proposal based on financial plan, quality of education and other factors. "While the government supports the development of the international school sector, there is no policy ... to provide sites to every private international school operator. Operated on a self-financing and market-driven basis, international schools need to secure their own accommodation," the spokesman said. He said the bureau had made it clear to the school that participation in the allocation exercise was not a valid exit plan. He added that the bureau would need an early confirmation if the school would use the temporary site to allow enough time for refurbishment and relocation. He said the bureau would continue to liaise with the school, including potential meetings and other necessary assistance. But Yip King-sze, whose two daughters study at the Tin Hau campus, said if the government felt it had no responsibility to provide land for international schools, it should not have started the allocation exercise for the development of such schools. "By refusing to support home-grown schools, the government is suffocating the start-up spirit," she said. "People might as well all go to speculate in the stock market or property market." Sawyer said the school's last straw would be relocating the Tin Hau pupils to its government-granted site in Stanley that was originally planned to create new international school places amid a shortage. "We cannot move families and children around like pieces on a chessboard," she said.