Carmen is a social issues and rural reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

$8m boost for Bay schools

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Money needed to cope with big increase in students in fast-growing area

The Ministry of Education will pump more than $8 million into Papamoa College and Golden Sands School this year to build new facilities to cope with rapidly growing student numbers.

The funding comes after new figures show roll numbers at schools throughout Tauranga have continued to climb with 1594 extra pupils enrolled during 2015 compared in 2012.

Ministry of Education infrastructure service head Kim Shannon said it had spent more than $10 million on Tauranga schools since 2013 to accommodate roll growth.

In addition, Papamoa College would receive $5.1 million to increase its capacity to 1500 students while Golden Sands School was about to benefit from $3 million to increase its capacity from 450 students to 600, she said.

Read more: Tauranga schools 'bursting at seams'
New school to ease Papamoa pressure

"We monitor roll growth carefully and work with schools to ensure students are able to learn in a comfortable environment."

Overall, it had invested nearly $60 million in maintaining and upgrading the school property network in the area since 2013, she said.

Tauranga mayor Stuart Crosby said the boost in pupils "bodes well for the future as we have a younger demographic moving forward".

Tauranga mayor Stuart Crosby. Photo/file
Tauranga mayor Stuart Crosby. Photo/file

Quality education was one of the main attractions of the city and the Ministry "are very much connected to us with our growth strategy".

"It's not just about what they are investing now, I know they are looking ahead for expansion and further schools which is good."

Papamoa College principal Steve Lindsey said the current roll was 1100 and it was "bulging" at the seams. The school had experienced significant growth which would carry on as primary school children transitioned.

"We have got more to come ... it is going to hit us over the next few years."

Mr Lindsey said it probably would not take long for the school to reach 1400 or 1500 students due to the exponential growth of Papamoa, "which is just taking off".

The $5.1 million funding was for 17 teaching spaces - a formula the Ministry of Education used to calculate what new facilitates an extra 400 students would need.

"It's not just a block of 17 classrooms; it might be a bit here and there like science or art rooms or an extension.

"We need more of everything because there are more students at every level."

We have got more to come ... it is going to hit us over the next few years.
Steve Lindsey, Papamoa College principal

Although he did not know when the work would start, the design process had already started, he said.

The college had 100 staff and was in the process of appointing others.

"I am proud as a leader and being able to work with such talented people and know the education of Papamoa students is in really good hands," said Mr Lindsey.

Golden Sands School principal Melanie Taylor said the school had a roll of 421 and expected numbers to soar to more than 500 this year.

"We are struggling to accurately predict roll growth as the number of homes being built is increasing rapidly. I would expect that we would have a roll close to 600 within the next two years."

It was building six classroom equivalents and extending some of the infrastructure including the staffroom and multipurpose spaces, she said.

"We have either been building or planning and designing the next build, every year that we have been open.

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"The community is really positive about Golden Sands School and are enthusiastically part of the growing culture."

The Ministry of Education also approved five new classrooms for Pillians Point School in 2015 and agreed to replace four old classrooms.

Design work had begun on a new nine-classroom block which was expected to be finished at the end of the year.

Meanwhile, work was nearly finished on a new $1.8 million seven-classroom block at Bethlehem Primary School and four existing classrooms were being upgraded.

Te Wharekura o Mauao also received $1.7 million to increase the capacity of the Year 7-13 wharekura to 200 students.

The expansion was completed at the beginning of 2015, Ms Shannon said.

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Email: editor@bayofplentytimes.co.nz

- Bay of Plenty Times

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