Ministry back-tracks on start time for Remarkables Primary zone change

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The Ministry of Education has done an about-face over two aspects of the controversial Remarkables Primary zoning issue.

MoE officials told the school’s board on Wednesday night that they have agreed to not let the new, smaller zone take effect at the start of term one next year, as it had recently ordered.

In August, the ministry dropped the zoning bombshell on the Queenstown community – saying that to combat over-crowing at the resort’s newest school, it would have to cut off future enrolments in certain areas.

The proposed new home zone includes:

• The south side of Frankton Road from Shotover Bridge to Kawarau Rd
• All streets accessed from McBride St and Yewlett Crescent
• Frankton
• Kelvin Heights and south to Wye Creek, including Jacks Point.

Family-friendly Lake Hayes Estate, Quail Rise, Tucker Beach, Marina Heights and the northern side of Frankton Rd would become out of the zone.

The current school roll is about 353 – 222 of who will live outside the proposed new zone. They will still be able to attend the school as they’ll be placed on the amended home zone roll.

Originally the MoE wanted it to take effect from the start of term two next year, and then changed its mind to starting in term one. Families became even more enraged and the board has successfully pleaded with the Ministry to not go ahead with the term one starting point.

“It’s fantastic news for the parents of children who are going to turn five within that first term period – many of whom have started our Little Explorers Transition programme,” board member Fiona Woodham says.

The transition programme, for four-year-olds about to start school, runs for six months – and many kids outside the new zone have already started it. Woodham estimates 20 families would have been affected.

“With the Ministry saying their preference was for it to start in term one, we have already had families who started that programme understandably get massively upset,” she says.

The exact date of the new zone taking effect remains undecided but the MoE promises to tell the board by next month.

The second aspect the MoE has agreed to is continuing providing the current school bus service till the end of 2012, when the contract runs out. The service will then come under review as part of the normal school bus service review cycle.

Late last month, the MoE informed the school that the bus service from Lake Hayes would cease at the end of this year.

“So we are back to where we started,” Woodham says.

“The community has accepted the fact that we do need to do an enrolment change. The question of the timing had really upset a lot of the parents. [The about-face] was a nice surprise.”