A shake-up of school bus services in the greater Waikouaiti
coastal area has left some parents and Dunedin principals
feeling they are being discriminated against by the Ministry
A ministry survey conducted recently showed fewer pupils
eligible for subsidised school transport services between
Dunedin, Seacliff, Warrington and Waitati, so the two
subsidised bus routes were combined into one this year.
Passenger Transport Citibus, contracted to operate the
ministry-funded services, decided to retain the defunct route
as a commercial operation.
Otago Boys' High School rector Clive Rennie said the
contracted bus service only went to Logan Park High School
because it was the nearest secondary school.
John McGlashan College, Columba College, St Hilda's
Collegiate School and Kavanagh College pupils also got to use
the service because it was included under the schools
integration agreement for pupils who elected to go to a
school of special character.
However, pupils attending Otago Boys' High School, Otago
Girls' High School, Dunedin North Intermediate or Balmacewen
Intermediate were not eligible for the subsidy.
Mr Rennie said he was upset because it appeared that parents
who had chosen a single sex school or intermediate were being
''My boys have elected to go to Otago Boys' High School. Why
are they being penalised? We're being discriminated against.
''I think everybody should pay or everybody should be free.
''There are inconsistencies in the Ministry of Education's
policy and the parents of my pupils seem to be on the wrong
end of those decisions.''
Otago Girls' High School principal Linda Miller said it
appeared parents choosing single sex state education for
their children were not receiving the same benefits as other
parents who chose integrated schools.
Mrs Miller said given recent Government policy, which allowed
the establishment of charter schools, increases in integrated
school rolls and the financial bailing out of private
schools, she believed the bus system was another step towards
privatisation of state schools.
''It makes me feel fearful for the state of our world class
A Warrington resident, who declined to be named, described
the changes as ''grossly unfair''.
She said about 23 parents in the area attended a meeting in
Warrington last week to discuss the issue, and many said they
were now driving their children to school.
A Go card fare of $5 each way, or a cash fare of $5.50 each
way was charged for pupils not eligible for free bus
transport, she said.
Waikouaiti-Coast Community Board chairman Gerard Collings
said he had written a letter of protest to the ministry,
stating children going to other schools in Dunedin were not
even getting free transport to Logan Park High School before
travelling on to other schools.
A ministry spokesman said there used to be a ministry service
over Mt Cargill from Waitati to Dunedin, and one over the
motorway from Seacliff.
The motorway route was also serviced by suitable public
transport so the route was withdrawn. He said individual
pupils were assessed for ministry-funded services based on
circumstances such as age, distance from closest school and
lack of suitable public services.
''There is enough capacity on the redesigned service from
Seacliff via Mt Cargill to Dunedin to accommodate all the
eligible students in the area,'' he said.