The commissioner appointed to run a Northland school that has been compared to a slum says he doesn't know how it got into that state - but agrees it is taking too long to fix it.
Problems at Northland College have included leaky buildings, mould and asbestos on a roof, which has since been sealed off.
Chris Saunders has been managing Northland College in Kaikohe after successive boards ended up in debt to the Ministry of Education.
He said other schools of a similar vintage were in much better shape because their buildings were maintained properly but Northland College's were not.
Mr Saunders said senior ministry officials told him three years ago the school would be revamped but nothing was happening, which he said was very frustrating.
Don Edmonds, the chair of the board that was replaced by Mr Saunders three years ago, said the issue of the "shocking buildings" at the school was highlighted in an Education Review Office report in 2008.
He said Mr Saunders had fared no better than he and his board.
Northland College principal Jim Luders said today his school was so dilapidated the police wanted to use it in the holidays as a ghetto-style setting for training exercises.
Mr Luders said it was a tough job keeping up morale in such dilapidated surroundings, and he hoped the Ministry of Education would sign off this month on a planned rebuild.
The ministry said it had already spent $1.5 million on buildings at the school but acknowledged more could be done.
In a statement, the ministry said plans for the school were progressing well and it hoped to have a better idea of timing soon.
It said it had helped the school develop a proposal for a single redevelopment project and expected to make a decision on that in the next couple of months.
Spending on charter school challenged
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has challenged the Government to explain why it has built a new charter school in the north, given Northland College's troubles.
In Parliament today, Mr Peters asked Prime Minister John Key to justify the spending on the new charter school at Whangaruru near Russell.
The Prime Minister said the partnership school was about providing choice for students, which was a separate issue from the problems facing Northland College.