Education Minister Anne Tolley wants Wakatipu High moved – and pronto.
In an exclusive interview with Mountain Scene, Tolley reveals she wants urgent action by the Ministry of Education to buy a new site to cope with the school’s bulging roll.
Tolley’s eyeing up land at Frankton Flats. “It’s the only place where there’s land available. “If we can get the land, I’d like to get on and [build the new school] as soon as I possibly can,” she says.
In Queenstown last Thursday for a tour of the new Remarkables Primary construction site, Tolley says Wakatipu High’s current position is “terrible”.
“It might have done when Queenstown was a small tourist centre but Queenstown’s now a thriving, growing community and we need to understand that.
“I know [Wakatipu High] has problems in the winter, it doesn’t get any sun, it’s all icy. I asked the Ministry if they can find [a new site] as soon as we possibly can.”
Wakatipu High’s roll is at 858 students. The MoE’s already granted $1.3 million for six new classrooms expected to be built next year.
“They’re crammed in there,” she says.
Last month, Tolley announced another primary will be built between Queenstown and Arrowtown by 2021 – and starting next year, Year 7 and 8 pupils will progressively move from Wakatipu High to Queenstown Primary.
“One of the reasons I took away those early years [from Wakatipu High] and put them with the primary school was just about the congestion on that site – the high school was just growing and they weren’t able to cope with it.”
The MoE has a capital fund for buying land.
“Money’s tight, we have a budget [but] I’m sure that the Ministry can manage something.
“Now’s the best time to buy – the bottom of the depression is always a good time to buy land.”
Tolley’s hurry-up to her Education Ministry will be sweet music to Remarkables Park developer Alastair Porter.
Last week Porter told Mountain Scene the MoE should move quickly on land for a new school because two private primary schools were also sniffing around.
Enough, says Doyle
Wakatipu High board chair Peter Doyle will resign in April when his term is up.
“I’ve done six years. It’s enough,” Doyle says.
“It takes up an amazing amount of time. It’s a lot bigger job than I ever realised when I first took it on.
“But I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and it’s been great but in the end we’re just a bunch of parents doing our best and you’re battling bureaucracy all the time.”
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