Row over Queenstown school zoning intensifies

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A frustrated Remarkables Primary has slammed a “short-sighted” response by Education Minister Anne Tolley about the school’s re-zoning issues.

Tolley has this week told the school board that its options – inspired by 150 public submissions – to deal with the overcrowding problem aren’t acceptable.

Last month, the MoE informed the resort’s newest school that from next year it must reduce its zone – cutting off family suburbs like Quail Rise, Lake Hayes Estate and parts of Frankton – to help ease the pressure.

“The options you have proposed to increase the capacity of Remarkables School (the possibility of additional accommodation onsite, a larger split site campus and possible public-private partnership) do not align with the Minsitry’s long-term plan for education provision in the Wakatipu area,” Tolley writes.

“The Wakatipu Area Strategy was developed following a community consultation process and includes provision for a new primary school.”

Tolley adds that “in the short term”, there’s capacity within local schools to accommodate predicted primary school roll growth.

That’s refuted by Remarkable School board chairman John Stalker.

“We feel the response is very short-sighted and are concerned that within the next two years…all state schools within the area will be overcrowded.”

Plunket figures show that 260 kids born in 2007-08 will be entering the school system in 2012-13. In 2014 there’ll be 307 turning five, in 2015 there’ll be 284 and in in 2016 there’ll be 290.

“We will be overcrowded in 2013 along with Queenstown Primary School and Arrowtown Primary School,” Stalker says.

“With no short-term solution in the Wakatipu the community is very concerned with the future of schooling in our area.”

He adds: “It takes approximately five years to build a new school and to date the Ministry is still trying to find a suitable site, let alone purchase the land and build a school.

“We would appreciate it if the Ministry could reconsider the birth rate figures we have been sending through and reconsider the proposal put forward from Remarkables Primary School.”