School fights roll bulge battle

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Queenstown Primary’s flash new learning block offers some reprieve for local schools’ bulging rolls.

The state-of-the-art $1.4 million centre houses Year 7 pupils who, as a result of a Ministry of Education decision last year, stayed behind at the primary instead of normally shifting to Wakatipu High.

Year 8s will also remain at the primary from next year.

Education Minister Anne Tolley officially opened the new 537sq m building at its downtown site on Robins Road on Tuesday, which contains five interchangeable learning areas.

Tolley told Mountain Scene the Ministry’s still negotiating over where to buy land next for a new Wakatipu High in Frankton as well as a new primary school towards Arrowtown.

“We’re moving forward but where exactly we are in the process I don’t know,” Tolley says.

“I’ve said to [Wakatipu High], with the re-shaping – by keeping Year 7 and 8s here [at Queenstown Primary] – it gives them a little bit of breathing space but we know their population is still growing and that they’re under pressure.

“We’ll get onto it as quickly as we can – it’s not something that’s years away, once we’ve got the land we want to start designing and building.”

Queenstown Primary principal John Western says the Year 7 kids are “loving” being at the school.