Stephanie is a senior reporter for the Rotorua Daily Post.

School zone 'awful but necessary' (+video)

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The zoning of a popular Rotorua primary school has been the cause of tension and anxiety among out-of-zone parents who fear their other children will not be accepted.

Otonga Road Primary School sought advice from the Ministry of Education when its roll reached full capacity and was told to consider implementing a zone.

From there, the school's board of trustees worked with the ministry to draft the zoning outline and yesterday the final zone was put into place.

The school's roll has increased by more than 100 pupils since 2013 when it was 471, with it expected to be 640 by the end of the year, an increase of 82 from last year.

Otonga Road Primary School principal Linda Woon with Gege Zhou, 5, left, and Royce Sanford, 5, on their first day of school.  Photo/Ben Fraser
Otonga Road Primary School principal Linda Woon with Gege Zhou, 5, left, and Royce Sanford, 5, on their first day of school. Photo/Ben Fraser


Principal Linda Woon said the school had a big jump in enrolments last term with out-of-zone families trying to get a placement before the zone was introduced.

"We had three families trying to enrol on the last day of the term. We had families trying to enrol their child who was not due to start school for another three or four months - in one case we had someone try to enrol a year in advance.

"We have had to turn people away and so we have had a lot of disappointed families who were very keen on having their children come to this school."

She said the decision to zone the school had caused tension among out-of-zone parents.

"There's been a lot of anxiety as well from these parents who want reassurance their other children will be accepted. The only assurance we can give is if there are any gaps, siblings of already attending pupils will be top priority."

Ms Woon said the zone was "awful but necessary".

"It is an awkward, awful situation to be in but we expect to have a roll of around 640 by the end of the year and that is above our school's capacity. Putting the zone in place will mean we lose between 40 to 60 pupils. We will still be at full capacity, but it will be more manageable."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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