Another school will be built: Minister

A new primary school could be built in the Wakatipu basin just 19 months after the opening of Remarkables Primary School, which this week confirmed it is adopting an enrolment scheme to control demand.

During a flying visit to Wanaka yesterday to open the new Wanaka Primary School, Education Minister Anne Tolley said the zone changes would keep the Remarkables school "at a reasonable size", and another new school was likely.

"When I made a decision about the size of the Remarkables school, it was made on the understanding that there was going to have to be another school ... [further out of Queenstown] in the future."

Mrs Tolley said setting up a new school was done on "best estimates" of roll growth.

"But I think it's taken everyone by surprise how quickly it [Remarkables Primary School] has filled up." Finding a new campus for Wakatipu High School also remains a high priority for Mrs Tolley.

She recently requested a brief from the Ministry of Education on the situation at the high school, and said it remained her "pet project to get those kids out from underneath those mountains" and to a new site.

Remarkables board of trustees chairman John Stalker said the home zone area changes are a temporary "band-aid fix" and would not solve school-roll woes for the Wakatipu region.

The new proposal would see the Lake Hayes Estate, Quail Rise, Tucker Beach, Marina Heights and the Northern side of Frankton road come "out of the zone".

The board's media spokeswoman for the school, Fiona Woodham, said they had no choice but to address the growing roll by reducing the current zone areas.

"Growth rates have meant we have had to look at zone changes because we can't turn children away if they are in the zone."

Mrs Woodham said the school had 19 unenrolled children they didn't know about show up at the school on Monday.

As it stands, any child in the current zones can show up without pre-enrolling with the school.

"We are trying to get to a position where we have better control over these enrolments."

While Mrs Woodham sympathised with those parents and families affected, she said the ministry needed a plan to cater for the rapid growth as school rolls in Wakatipu continue to climb.

Changes would begin in term two next year, which meant those who would have started after this date would miss out.

Mrs Woodham emphasised that if the zone changes went ahead, present pupils and their families could still attend as long as they lived at their current address. The school was planning to introduce a separate campus to accommodate the extra pupils and so current zone areas remained.

"It's all ideas and options at this stage, but the ministry have said they are willing to discuss it," Mr Stalker said.

The additional campus would be located beside the proposed new high school site and would open the possibility of splitting year groups up, but keeping them under the one umbrella of Remarkables Primary.

"The idea is to keep our community and family we have built together, but the issue we have is the 460-pupil limit."

The proposal to the MOE would outline a "staged" building process of the campus, which would mean it could be built over a period of years.


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