John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

New school to ease Papamoa pressure

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Dane Robertson, president of the Western Bay of Plenty Principals Association, said Golden Sands had grown considerably and the association has asked the Ministry for its plans for Papamoa East.
Dane Robertson, president of the Western Bay of Plenty Principals Association, said Golden Sands had grown considerably and the association has asked the Ministry for its plans for Papamoa East.

A planned new Catholic primary school in Papamoa East will help soak up growing pressure on the Ministry of Education to add a fifth state school to the rapidly growing Tauranga suburb.

The Catholic Diocese was talking with Ministry officials on its plans that would likely result in a new school being built within the next five years.

"You would hope it would be sooner than 2020, but we can't say when," Diocesan manager Greg Schmidt told the Bay of Plenty Times.

He was responding to the Ministry saying it was in the process of looking at what primary schools would need to be provided in Papamoa East.

Read more: Tauranga schools bursting at the seams

Ministry spokeswoman Katrina Casey said there was limited capacity within existing schools and "more capacity" would be provided at Golden Sands School - the furthest east of Papamoa's four primary schools.

She said it was too early to say when a decision would be made and what that would mean in terms of new schools.

"The Catholic Diocese has registered its interest in working with us to establish and integrate a new primary school in Papamoa East. This will be considered when we come to make decisions in response to growth in Papamoa."

The Diocese has purchased three hectares of land in Wairakei for an integrated primary school, with Mr Schmidt saying there was always a percentage of non-Catholics at their integrated schools. They were happy to work with the Ministry on what the percentage would be at Papamoa East.

He agreed they "very much" wanted to soak up some of the demand for a new school and said the Diocese was working with the Ministry to progress this goal.

The advantage for the Ministry was that it did not have land purchase costs, with Catholic dioceses normally funding 15 to 20 per cent of building costs.

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller said he would be advocating strongly for further investment in Papamoa schools this year because the area was growing phenomenally fast. It was no use using the last three to five years as the yardstick for growth because schools were already signalling they were pretty close to full. "It's not far away from needing another primary school."

Mr Muller said even the college could put up a strong case for more buildings.

Dane Robertson, president of the Western Bay of Plenty Principals Association, said Golden Sands had grown considerably and the association has asked the Ministry for its plans for Papamoa East.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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