Hundreds of Wakatipu parents are shocked about drastic zone changes at Remarkables Primary that could see their kids excluded next year.
Families in Lake Hayes Estate, Quail Rise, Tucker Beach, Marina Heights and the northern side of Frankton Road face being shut out of Queenstown’s newest school as it battles overcrowding.
Ministry of Education officials, who on Monday ordered a public meeting about the proposed changes, last night addressed locals at the school about the issue.
Parents spoken to by Mountain Scene say they’re angry about the sudden move – especially since the $17.3 million school opened only 19 months ago and it is too small already.
City Impact Church Early Education Centre boss Shaun Vining says 65 per cent of his current roll will be affected by the time the kids turn five. A large chunk of the centre’s 220-strong waiting list will also be impacted.
“I know people that are specifically living in Lake Hayes Estate because they thought they could get in to Remarkables Primary,” he says.
“They’re freaking out. There’s a lot of angry people out there.”
Vining, also a Lake Hayes Estate resident, has two young children who won’t be able to attend the flash new school.
“It’s not the school’s fault – they do a great job. It’s the ministry who have known about this the whole time and should have planned for it.”
He warns the bulging school roll situation will only get worse when the recent Wakatipu baby boomers eventually go through the primary and secondary education system.
“All the ministry’s doing is chucking a band-aid on it when it’s a gushing wound.”
Lake Hayes Estate mum Kate Smith is lucky to have her kids get in to Remarkables Primary because her eldest son Jack turns five before the new zone rules take effect.
“But what concerns me is the psycho-social impact on the kids – they go through pre-school with their peers thinking they’re all going to the same school, but now some will be forced to go elsewhere. Children are going to be disadvantaged,” Smith, a psychiatric nurse, says.
“I’m very supportive of the school but very disappointed in the ministry.”
School growing pains aren’t just confined to Remarkables Primary.
John Western, principal of the resort’s largest school, Queenstown Primary, says the MoE needs to produce a solid long-term plan to cater for the resort’s growing education needs.
“We really want the ministry to listen to us. Historically they have not accepted that Queenstown will grow.”