Growing pains: Kids at Wakatipu High School will have to use temporary classrooms while the school's being expanded

Most Wakatipu High students could be studying in temporary classrooms next year, just three years after the school moved into new premises.

This less-than-ideal situation arises as the school prepares for a building programme that’ll extend its capacity from 1200 to 1800 students.

The disruption will occur as the extension’s tacked onto the present complex, and also because there’ll be modifications to the current building, principal Steve Hall explains.

The new elements are eight learning spaces, at the same two-storey height as the existing main block, a doubling of the gym, two basketball courts, a new storage shed and more carparks.

It’s not confirmed yet, but Hall’s picking that contractors will start work in May.

He says it would be better if the disruptive work starts late this year, when senior students begin finishing their school year early.

However, he concedes there’s a chance most teaching next year will take place in temporary classrooms – described as “modular transportable buildings” – ahead of a hoped-for end-of-year completion date.

Just how many students will be affected, and for how long, is still being worked out, he says.

“There’s basically a trade-off between disruption and completion.

“If we want very, very little disruption, and the [contractor’s] only allowed to work on tiny, tiny bits of the [present] building at any one time, the completion will be a long time [away].”

However, whatever the disruption, Hall’s confident students and staff will cope.

“The good thing is we’ve shown we can deal with significant change, like we did moving from the old school to this school.

“There’s no question that when this is done, it’s going to be absolutely fantastic, we’ll have lots of space.

“It’s one of those things where, short term, it’s going to be a nuisance, but long term, this is fantastic.”

He’s also delighted that work will start this year as the school’s roll is already close to 1100.

“That’s why we’ve been pushing to get this work done, because we are just continuing to grow.”

In fact, Hall says the first meeting held to plan phase two occurred before the school moved two years ago.

“In a perfect world, this would have all been done in round one, but it wasn’t, so we just need to manage ourselves as we go through this second phase.”

As to when the school hits the 1800-student ceiling, he says the current projection, which needs updating, is 2027-28.

“What we understand from the Ministry [of Education] is when we get to 1800, they will have to build another high school.

“That’s our most recent understanding.”