Jam-packed Wakatipu High will spend $2 million on new classrooms while the school remains in the dark about its future location.
Queenstown’s only secondary school will build a flash new music, drama and computer technology block next year – despite being kept out of on-going Ministry of Education discussions about eventually shifting the entire campus.
The block – part of a staggered development plan – will be a welcome reprieve for the 778-pupil school, which has been grappling with bulging class sizes for years. But spending money amid a guaranteed shift to somewhere in Frankton Flats isn’t lost on the board of trustees – they just can’t do anything about it because they don’t know what’s happening with future plans.
“We don’t want to be spending money on stuff that’s quickly going to be redundant, but because we have no influence [with the MoE], no say and aren’t part of that process, you’ve just got to work with what you do know,” board member Greg Turner says.
“I wouldn’t say we feel excluded but it would be useful to be as up-to-date as possible because you’d have thought it would be in the interests of the Ministry.”
Last October, Education Minister Anne Tolley said she wanted urgent MoE action on a new site in Frankton for Wakatipu High, adding the school’s current position is “terrible”.
Money for the latest upgrade has MoE approval and must be spent on capital works, Turner says.
Upgrades and extensions to existing buildings are also in the pipeline for next year but still being finalised.
“We need to look after the students of today and the next few years and deal with what we can control, which is capital works on the current site. We have no clue how long we’re going to be there so we’ve got to operate on the basis that we’re going to be there forever.”
In addition to the 650sq m development, to begin next February, there’ll be an extension to the gym, two new classrooms, changing areas, an off-street entrance and new canteen.
The extra space, coupled with Years 7 and 8 pupils no longer being at Wakatipu High from next year, means pressure will be eased slightly, Turner says.
“Roll growth can’t be stymied any longer. In two or three years we’re going to be too big for that site.”
Overall, Turner’s excited
“Adding a modern learning environment is a real positive for the students.”