$11 million boost for Arrowtown school


Watertightness issues at Arrowtown School will be addressed in a three-year, $11 million redevelopment that will increase the primary school’s capacity by nearly 20 per cent, to about 700 pupils.

The long-awaited announcement by Associate Minister of Education Nikki Kaye in Queenstown yesterday comes four years after the Ministry of Education discovered the problem and nearly two years after it was made public.

Principal Chris Bryant says he’s “delighted” and looking forward to getting on with detailed planning with the ministry.

“[It] gives us certainty.”

He expected the redevelopment to closely follow a concept master plan completed by Dunedin company Logic Group more than a year ago.

Four leaky buildings will be demolished and replaced with a multipurpose facility consisting of seven teaching spaces and an administration area.

Two buildings will be reroofed and external cladding and windows replaced, while the school’s hall will undergo minor repairs.

The work will be carried out in stages over the next three years to minimise disruption.

Design work will begin later this year and construction is expected to begin next year.

Bryant says the project would expand the school’s capacity from its current 590 places to about 700.

Its current roll is 560.

In August 2014, then-principal Robin Harris informed parents the school had watertightness issues with seven of its nine blocks, but the ministry had assured the school board there were no immediate health and safety issues.

Kaye’s announcement was billed as a $36 million “future-proofing” of Arrowtown School and Wakatipu High School.

It put the cost of relocating Wakatipu High School from its present site near Queenstown’s CBD to Frankton at $25 million.

Construction of the new campus began two months ago. It will open at the beginning of 2018, with room for 1200 pupils.

Principal Steve Hall says  the school is forecasting a roll of between 950 and 1000 in 2018, but he believes it could reach the 1200-pupil mark two years after that.

The master plan for the Frankton site puts its maximum capacity at 1800 places.

Kaye says the Government was investing in Queenstown’s schools to stay ahead of the area’s population growth, and was at the moment discussing with the community the potential of a new school.

“We see this as a priority area in terms of education because of the growth that’s happened over a short period of time.”

She also announced an additional $1million for Wanaka’s Mount Aspiring College, Donovan Primary in Invercargill and Pembroke School in Oamaru.

Mount Aspiring College principal Wayne Bosley says he welcomes the $700,000 earmarked for two new classrooms.

The school had been in talks with the ministry for some time and he hoped to secure more new classrooms soon.

Its roll at the start of the year was 857, more than double its 2000 roll of 385.

Money for schools

• $11 million to address watertightness issues at Arrowtown Primary School and increase its capacity from 590 to about 700

• $25 million for relocation of Wakatipu High School to Frankton

• $700,000 for two new classrooms at Mt Aspiring College, Wanaka

• $350,000 for a new classroom at Donovan Primary School, Invercargill

• $350,000 for new classroom at Pembroke School in Oamaru