$18m new school

By Carmen Hall

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SMILES: Education minister Hekia Parata and Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller at Welcome Bay School yesterday, where Ms Parata announced $22.5 million of funding initiatives for Tauranga.PHOTO/JOHN BORREN
SMILES: Education minister Hekia Parata and Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller at Welcome Bay School yesterday, where Ms Parata announced $22.5 million of funding initiatives for Tauranga.PHOTO/JOHN BORREN

Pyes Pa is set to get an $18 million primary school but the plan could face a battle in the Environment Court.

At Welcome Bay School's assembly yesterday, Education Minister Hekia Parata announced that Welcome Bay, Oropi School and Maungatapu School would also receive funding for two new classrooms each with a combined value of $2.5m.

Ms Parata told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend she understood there was an issue before the Environment Court that needed to be worked through before a start date could be confirmed for the new state school. It would have a roll of 650 students and would be built on a 5.2ha site, on Kennedy Rd at Pyes Pa.

It was not unusual to face opposition in the consent process, she said, and it was one of the reasons the Government wanted to reform the Resource Management Act, she said.

Documents from the Environment Court showed it received one appeal against the Ministry of Education's submission on April 15.

The appeal expressed concern about building heights, shading, privacy and traffic congestion.

It was going to mediation on June 28, a spokeswoman said.

Ms Parata said Tauranga had been identified as a priority area based on demographics and growth.

"We are very focused on getting ahead and not waiting until schools are bursting at the seams before we do something."

Western Bay of Plenty Principal Association president Dane Robertson said while investment in education was welcomed "I still feel we are running to a standstill".

The Lakes was growing quickly and many schools in the area were bursting at the seams, Mr Robertson said.

"I think that it is probably time that we looked at developing another public secondary school in the Tauranga area."

"In a place that is growing like Tauranga, the Ministry has to build space to accommodate the growth or you have students using libraries, old dental clinics, mezzanine floors and halls... these are not the best spaces for learning."

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges said the Ministry bought the Pyes Pa land in May 2005. Mr Bridges said he had seen the issues of growth at some schools first-hand.

"Todd Muller and I as local MPs are very clear more will be required in terms of classroom provision and we are pushing for more to come in light of the $882 million budget for education infrastructure. You have to look, though, at the $20 million provided today. It's more than just a good start, it's a rocketing one."

Welcome Bay School principal Nik House said it would replace two temporary classrooms that were currently on site and that "is very exciting, we can't wait".

The school had experienced exponential growth and the roll had gone up by 120 in four years, he said.

"It has grown rapidly and we have children from all over the place and a lot of Aucklanders moving into the area... there are houses going up all over the place."

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller said it was a great result for Welcome Bay School, Oropi School, Maungatapu School and the new school at Pyes Pa.

Developer Scott Adams, of Carrus, said the new school was crucial for Pyes Pa. "The area is growing so fast that when the new school opens in 2018 it will have a full roll from the day the doors open," he said.

Mayor Stuart Crosby said Pyes Pa needed a primary school.

The council was in negotiation with the Ministry over infrastructure that included roading, waste water and stormwater.

"Because of the law schools don't have to contribute anything so what we do is have a negotiation with the Ministry to determine what is fair and reasonable and hopefully they will make a contribution."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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