Dilemma after school bus subsidy cut

Families of pupils in East Otago who are no longer eligible for a school bus subsidy have a difficult decision to make about the future of their children's education, Dunedin North Labour MP David Clark says.

From the start of 2013, among pupils from the Waikouaiti, Karitane, Warrington and Waitati areas attending a state school, only those going to Logan Park High School will have bus travel subsidised by the Ministry of Education.

Schools affected by these changes are Queen's High School, Otago Boys' High School and Otago Girls' High School.

Pupils attending St Hilda's Collegiate School, Columba College, Kavanagh College and John McGlashan College will still be eligible for the subsidy.

Affected parents were first notified of the changes after they had heard rumours and contacted the Ministry of Education. Dr Clark was then approached by parents concerned about the situation.

''The biggest problem is with parents who already have existing children going to those schools,'' Dr Clark said.

''They are going to have to make a choice about the future of their children's education, which is very hard on families.''

There was also a problem with the way families had been informed about the changes, which parents had not been aware of until very recently, he said.

''It seems a little disingenuous.''

One parent who contacted Dr Clark's office would have to pay an extra $4000 if they wanted to continue sending their daughters to Otago Girls' High School.

Otago Girls' High School principal Linda Miller said the school had quite a lot of pupils from the East Otago area, so it was disappointing they would be charged to use the bus service. If pupils already attending the school had to move to a different school, it was likely to affect their education, she said.

''It seems if you live out there and want to send your children to a single-sex school, you are disadvantaged,'' she said.

A spokeswoman for Queen's High School principal Julie Andrews said it would not be affected by the changes as pupils from East Otago travelled into the city privately. The Ministry of Education did not reply to questions from The Star.

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