Wakatipu High’s board believes more local kids will stay here with a proposed boarding establishment at its future school.
The Ministry of Education has announced it bought an eight hectare block of land at Remarkables Park in Frankton for a new secondary school site to be built in the near future.
The school board of trustees and Remarkables Park developer Alastair Porter are keen to work together on building a boarding facility to attract prospective students from all over the country – and retain locals.
“Instead of kids leaving town to go boarding, there could be the potential to have kids boarding here,” Porter says.
No specific plans have been drawn up but both parties believe a boarding facility will work well with Remarkables Park’s planned performing arts facility and extra tertiary education.
Board member Greg Turner adds: “There are enormous public facilities planned at Remarkables Park that will add to the state-of-the-art facilities at the new school. It clearly suggests there’s an opportunity for the high school to look into an area where it hasn’t in the past, in terms of boarding.”
The school board is actively trying to retain dozens of local kids who leave for expensive private boarding schools.
“If we had a net gain rather than a net loss of students that has a big economic impact on the whole town,” Turner says.
The school land, south of Queenstown Airport, includes Porter’s farm homestead and is already zoned for education so doesn’t need to go through lengthy planning processes.
Wakatipu High, relocating from its cramped Queenstown site in Fryer Street, will begin building as soon as the ministry hands over the money, Turner says.
That may not be for a while – there are suggestions the school won’t be ready till 2017, but Turner says it’s not confirmed.
Porter won’t be drawn on what the MoE paid for the land but says “they got a good deal”.