Wakatipu schools are celebrating a Ministry of Education
''backdown'' over government-funded bus services.
Early last week, the Otago Daily Times revealed the
ministry was reviewing the provision of school buses in the
School representatives who attended a meeting two weeks ago
said the ministry told them services would be cut from the
beginning of next year, leaving children to rely on public
transport; the only decision left to make was which routes
The announcement sparked an outcry from the community and, on
Monday, ministry education infrastructure service group
manager Jerome Sheppard emailed schools to say the bus system
would remain fundamentally unchanged at the start of the 2015
''As to the substantive change proposal of transitioning
students to public transport, no change will occur until
suitable consultation and engagement has taken place and a
final decision has been made,'' the email said.
''We do need to work through the future of school transport
across the Wakatipu area given the current provision of
public transport in the region.
"As a result, we will be working with affected schools over
the coming months on potential options.''
St Joseph's School board chairwoman Gigi Hollyer, of
Queenstown, said school principals and boards of trustees
were told of the ministry's backdown during a conference call
on Monday afternoon.
''We're just all happy that we've now got a bit of breathing
Remarkables Primary School board chairwoman Fiona Woodham
said the schools had galvanised and worked to lobby senior
ministry staff and had taken it to ''a ministerial level''.
The turnaround was surprising but welcome, she said.
''Things will happen eventually - they seem determined to go
down this track, but if we can have all of those discussions
... the community will feel they've been listened to and some
better solutions will come out of it.''
Wakatipu High School principal Steve Hall said while it was
clear the ministry still intended to make changes, he was
pleased the community would be able to have some input in the
''Now there will be a chance to consult with our communities,
to understand what it means, who it will affect ... and have
''I think we're all really pleased that there's going to be
some more time and some more process in this.''
- Tracey Roxburgh & David Williams