Ministry to seek views on schooling

Katrina Casey.
Katrina Casey.
The Ministry of Education will consult on Wanaka's education needs before the end of the year.

In a statement yesterday, head of sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said there was ''no new school'' planned for Wanaka and the ministry was not in the process of acquiring a site.

She considered there was ''sufficient space'' at the Wanaka Primary School to accommodate current roll demand.

''However, we are aware of the growth in the roll at Wanaka Primary and later this year we intend to begin consulting members of the wider community for their views on what future education provision could look like in the area,'' she said.

Ms Casey said views would be sought from the Queenstown Lakes District Council and Wanaka school principals, staff and families.

''It is anticipated a range of options for future schooling may be identified and time will be taken to explore each one before any decisions are made,'' she said.

Wanaka Primary principal Wendy Bamford told the Otago Daily Times yesterday the school was yet to be consulted by the ministry but she expected it would be.

Staff and pupils moved to the $21.5 million school in Scurr Heights, near Mount Aspiring College, in 2010, when the roll was 430.

By the end of this year, the roll is expected to be 620.

Work on a new $1.2 million ''pod'' of four classrooms at the school, catering for 120 pupils, is due to begin soon and Ms Casey said it was expected to be completed by the end of term 1 next year.

Ms Casey said the ministry's ''general assessment process'' for new schools involved close monitoring of population change and school roll information.

''While school rolls can fluctuate from year to year, our monitoring allows us to identify longer-term trends that may indicate that rolls at existing schools could increase to such a point that there is a risk of over-crowding.''

Ms Casey said usually various options would be looked at to address roll growth ''before consideration was given to building a new school''.

''These include converting unused areas at existing schools into teaching spaces, providing temporary classrooms or extending existing buildings or rezoning a school.

''All options are explored and discussed with local communities before any decision is made so that any solution meets the needs of students and the wider community.''

Developers of the Three Parks subdivision on the outskirts of Wanaka have set aside land for educational facilities.

mark.price@odt.co.nz