Eight new classrooms are to be built in a $4 million government spend to help three Havelock North schools cope with a rolls blow-out - including up to 100 more pupils by the end of this year.
Details of the "investment", part of a $53.5 million Hawke's Bay, Tauranga and Hamilton schools package in the Government's Budget last week, were revealed by Minister of Education Hekia Parata in Tauranga yesterday.
The biggest winner of the Hawke's Bay schools is Havelock North Primary School, which will get four new rooms, as its roll, currently 537, grows by more than 10 per cent over the next 18 months.
Te Mata School, in Nimon Ave, with a roll of around 600, expected to top 640 by the end of the year, gets two new classrooms, amid the replacement of two others, and Lucknow School, in Elliott Cres and with a current roll of just over 300, also gets two new rooms.
Havelock North principal Nick Reed and Te Mata counterpart Mike Bain both yesterday spoke of having to use ancillary space such as a library, administration areas and a music suite to meet the demands being placed on the schools.
Most ecstatic was Mr Bain, who, with classroom numbers rising to 27, said: "It's a huge relief to us in terms of being able to accommodate the number of kids coming through."
It's a big moment for Havelock North Primary which in 2013 marked 150 years since the opening of the first Havelock North School. The current school opened in Te Mata Rd in 1952, and amid growth of baby-boom proportions had a new block built in 2011.
Mr Reed, principal at the school less than a year, said that despite the rapid growth in recent years there are a several spaces on the grounds that the classrooms can be placed, but details are yet to be discussed with the ministry.
Lucknow Board of Trustees chairwoman Shannon McKay said: "We are really pleased, but it's early days."
Hastings-based Tukituki Government MP Craig Foss said the Government was continuing to support the region's primary schools by investing in new classrooms, and said the new rooms fulfilled the need "in this part of Hastings".
That part of Hastings is thought to have already grown considerably from the 13,071 recorded in the Census 2013, part of a Hastings District population of 73,242.
Mr Foss said: "Parents and grandparents have told me about capacity issues at Havelock North primary schools and today we have a good result.
"We want to make sure we're addressing roll growth and providing flexible spaces to support innovative learning environments for our children," he said. "This is an investment not just in education but our children's future."
Mr Foss said that like other parts of the country, Havelock North was experiencing population growth.
"If the number of houses built in Havelock North increases significantly and a totally new school is required, then the Ministry will begin planning for it."
"I will continue to strongly advocate for our community to ensure we have the best possible environment, with the necessary resources for our children to succeed at school and beyond, he said.
The confirmed 2017 election Labour Party candidate for Tukituki Anna Lorck called the announcement a "compensation package and a very deliberate and political move by the National Government to get out of building Havelock North's promised new primary school".
"This National Government has completely screwed over Havelock North's chances of ever getting a new school now, but in doing so has finally accepted beyond doubt that the local community was right all along about an education crisis and bursting rolls.
Coming after the furore over a kura kaupapa Maori language school in the town, she questioned whether the new rooms will be "modern learning environments that would have been part of a new school, or just relocatable classrooms as a stopgap measure to release the pressure".
None of the schools yesterday had any details, with Mr Bain telling Hawke's Bay Today he knew "as much as you know", and Mrs McKay saying she knew only what had been announced.