Outgoing Queenstown Primary principal John Western reveals more than $4 million has been spent on new projects during his five years in the job.
The dad-of-two leaves in October for a plum job running the junior department at independent Wellington boys’ school, Scots College.
He says after first arriving at Queenstown Primary, resources were so stretched he and his caretaker would walk round the school on walkie-talkies working out which meter had to be turned off to save power.
“We also had trouble getting warrants for our buildings because our fire hydrants didn’t have any flow. The infrastructure was built for a school of 300 pupils and hadn’t been upgraded to meet the needs of 600.”
Western says during his time more than $4m has been spent on water, power and sewerage upgrades, playing field drainage and improved technology.
Seven classrooms have been added and the hall was recently extended.
A two-year programme to modernise classrooms also started during the last school holidays.
Under Western the roll peaked at 720 and is now 600. “Without Remarkables Primary we would be just overflowing with children.”
To balance the loss of students to the new Frankton school, Queenstown Primary had to recapitate. For the first time, last year the school took in Year 7 pupils – who this year are Queenstown Primary’s first ever Year 8 students.
The resort’s recent slowdown has also affected the roll: “Four years ago, virtually every day I was enrolling a new family.”
However the roll’s ethnic diversity has increased.Thirty-one nationalities are represented – Western says interpreters are sometimes used for teachers to communicate with parents.
He leaves proud of his staff’s quality of teaching.
“When the bell goes at the end of the break the students run back to class,” he tells parents/caregivers in a newsletter announcing his departure.
“There is no stronger endorsement of their relationship with your children than this.”
He adds: “The school’s looking really good on the outside and has an incredible heart on the inside.”
Western finishes his position at Queenstown Primary at the end of term three.