Allison is a digital reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times

Enrolment zone hot topic at Kennedy Rd school meeting

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A public meeting attracted 60 parents and residents to give their feedback on the new Kennedy Rd school in Payes Pa to ministry representatives Gavin Sowry and Dallas Collett. PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER
A public meeting attracted 60 parents and residents to give their feedback on the new Kennedy Rd school in Payes Pa to ministry representatives Gavin Sowry and Dallas Collett. PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER

Enrolment zones for the new Kennedy Rd school, in Pyes Pa, proved to be a hot topic at a packed public meeting held by the Ministry of Education.

The meeting at Aquinas College on Tuesday night attracted more than 60 parents and concerned residents to learn more and give feedback.

During the open forum at the end of the ministry's presentation parents of children attending Pyes Pa School raised questions whether the new school would affect bus routes for their children. \

Transport zones worked around midpoints between schools, with the intention of taking children to their closest school.

Some children would find themselves living closer to the new school than their existing school which could mean a bus would no longer take them to Pyes Pa School.

A Pyes Pa School parent said the school bus was integral for residents of Keenan Rd and Gasson Lane.

"Most parents that live rurally want their kids to go to a rural school. If you remove transport it forces them to go to an urban school," she said.

Further concerns were raised about the new school's enrolment zone stretching into the rural Pyes Pa area at a time when Pyes Pa School was not at full capacity.

One parent asked if a better idea would be to move the enrolment zone boundary back towards the Lakes in the short-term and as the area grew it would give Pyes Pa School a chance to get their roll to maximum and not see a drop in enrolments.

Pyes Pa School Board of Trustees chair Lorna Claydon said the school had capacity for more children.

"We're a highly successful school, we do well in national standards and we'd like to see the school flourish and fill up with kids."

She said in rural Pyes Pa parents had the choice to take their kids to town, as Pyes Pa School had no enrolment zone, but most parents chose Pyes Pa School.

Ms Claydon said it was exciting to have a new school and there was a definite need for it but she said they needed to make sure it would be good for everybody.

"There is a win-win solution out of this we just need to find it."

The Board was working on making a submission to the ministry.

Dallas Collett and Gavin Sowry represented the ministry at the meeting.

Mr Sowry said it was hard to find the right time to introduce a school into an area.

"If you do it too early you can be accused of not being a good spender of taxpayer dollars.

If you do it too late it means more kids are in existing schools and greater numbers will withdraw when you build the school so the impact can be greater."

The proposed enrolment zone was not set in stone, he said.

"We don't want to make other schools marginal. We have an obligation to all schools and not just the new one."

Mr Sowry said regardless of where the enrolment zone was it would not alter what happened with the transport zone, which was based on geographical midpoints between schools.

Written submissions could be made before August 12 to Dallas Collett, senior advisor Ministry of Education, Level 3 Regional House, 1 Elizabeth St, Tauranga 3110.

Highlights from the meeting
• Establishment of the school has to be signed off by the Minister of Education after consultation with the community.
• Opening by 2018 was a "very tight" time-frame
• No decision has been made whether it would be Years 1-6 or 1-8. The decision would be made closer to the time, though a staged opening was proposed. The school was likely to be open first for years 1-4, then another school year in the years following.
• Nomination for Establishment Board of Trustees has opened and closes August 12, 5pm.
o The 4-person board would dissolve 6-12 months after the school opened
o Board members would have input into school design and name, responsible for administering enrolment scheme, the name of the school, and appoint foundation principal and staff.
• An early child care centre would be considered as part of the design master planning of the site.
• Optimum roll size of 650, but legally there was no maximum roll for a state school.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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