School not keen to use KingsView classrooms

Fiona Woodham.
Fiona Woodham.
The Remarkables Primary School's board of trustees and principal have told the Ministry of Education and deputy prime minister Bill English they will not accept the ministry's proposal to annex two empty classrooms at nearby KingsView School to cope with the Remarkables school's overflowing roll.

The board last night declared "immediate action is necessary" and submitted its own set of proposals to solve the Frankton school's roll growth crisis, on the eve of welcoming the school's 462nd pupil today. Its capacity is 460.

Ministry officials were told the rejection of their proposal to split the school by accommodating some pupils at KingsView was based on "overwhelming school community feedback".

Of the 253 respondents to a survey conducted by the board in July, 87% said they were unhappy with the KingsView option. Trustees formulated their own strategy "in the absence of a response" from the ministry by the deadline of July 27.

The board said a short-term solution could be to use the existing early childhood centre on the Remarkables School site to accommodate some junior pupils from January 30 next year. Trustees had already talked to the Otago Playcentre Association, which was open to moving the early childhood centre to classrooms beside KingsView School and wanted to discuss options with the ministry.

Adaptations to the centre would need to be finished by January 15. The board's medium-term proposal involved two relocatable classrooms on the school site, beside Pohatu Pod and at the end of Ahuwhenua Pod, from term 3 next year.

Research found a company to provide "flat pack" classrooms which were in keeping with Remarkable Primary's design.

The classrooms would cater for the school's roll until mid-2014, when the board predicted there will be 520 to 530 pupils.

Starting construction of a sixth "learning pod" of four extra classrooms by the end of 2013, or the start of 2014, for teaching use by mid-2014 was the long-term solution proposed by the board.

Sited on the sports field, the extension "will provide long-term sustainability" with enrolment likely to be maintained around 500 pupils, even when an entirely new primary school was built.

The board also recommended the Remarkables school's roll designation be increased to 560 pupils and said the Queenstown Lakes District Council had advised it did not object to this.

However, designation change needed to start by the end of August this year.

Chairwoman Fiona Woodham and principal Debbie Dickson told the ministry the next scheduled meeting with ministry officials in the middle of August was "too far away" and requested a meeting this week to discuss the board's three solutions to "our urgent overcrowding issues".