A population "explosion" and rapid roll growth is driving a more than $30 million investment in making more room at three Tauranga schools, their leaders say.
Among the three recipients splitting the funding is a school that hasn't even opened yet but already needs its growth plan fast-tracked.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced the funding for Papamoa College, Taumata School and Te Ōkūroa Drive School yesterday, saying it would create construction jobs and make room for 1000 additional students.
It was part of a nationwide $164m investment in building new classrooms and upgrading schools.
Hipkins said the election delivered a clear mandate to accelerate economic recovery and build back better.
"That's why we are prioritising construction projects in schools so more young New Zealanders can learn in warm, dry and modern classrooms that are fit-for-purpose."
The college and Taumata School, which opened in Tauriko just last year, have been allocated funding for expansion.
The under-construction Te Ōkūroa Drive School, due to open in Pāpāmoa East in 2022, has been given additional funding to accommodate a bigger roll.
A ministry spokeswoman said Te Ōkūroa would get an additional $5m to fund Stage 2 of its build.
The school's establishment Board of Trustees chairwoman Rebecca Keating said the funding would help enable a planned future expansion to be fast-tracked.
"That probably wouldn't have happened for another year or two.
"To hear the news today is really quite exciting for us. If we can have all the stages finished before the school opens in 2022, that would be really cool."
The new school will be able to accommodate up to 650 students, 250 more than the originally announced roll of 400.
Keating said with an anticipated 2000 extra students coming into wider Pāpāmoa over the next few years, Te Ōkūroa's expanded roll would be "really good for our community".
"Hearing that Papamoa College has got some money to do their stage too is really good," Keating said.
The college has been allocated $20m to deliver the final stages of the school's expansion for an additional 500 students, bringing the total capacity to 2000.
A construction contractor is already appointed with the design phase underway.
Pāpāmoa College principal Steve Lindsay said the announcement was "great news".
"The ministry has been working with us to develop our campus to cater for the rapid roll growth.
"It is a big project as we are expanding most areas of the school."
On the western side of the city, Taumata School will be given $5m to deliver the Stage 2 expansion of the school that is currently under construction.
That will give the full primary school a capacity of 660 students, space for more than 200 additional pupils than when it opened with 390 students.
Taumata School principal Gen Fuller said the school had experienced "significant roll growth" and would start next term with 470 students.
"We're two years open and we've grown rapidly," she said.
Until the new build added capacity, the school would be using library and administration areas for teaching. It was also seeking access to temporary buildings.
"As we get more and more restricted in terms of space, we have to use any space that's available."
This would allow them to continue having an "agile learning environment" with co-teaching.
"Because the growth has been so rapid, [the new buildings] are going to allow us to spread ourselves out and actually teach in the way that we want to teach."
She said it was "exciting" to hear the funding formally announced.
Tauranga Principals' Association chairwoman Suzanne Billington said while the funding was necessary in high-growth areas, there was an opportunity to invest further into other schools and therefore into the economy.
"They're definitely covering off growth areas in Tauranga which is important ... but there are other schools in the area too.
"While it goes some way to alleviate problems in those particular areas, I know there are other schools that are looking for support with property as well."
A spokesperson for Minister of Education Chris Hipkins said the Government was spending $3 billion on school property including $400m as part of the School Investment Package for all state schools to upgrade their school property.
"The $164m announced today is only the latest package of school property projects being funded and there will be more announcements to come in the coming months."
Tauranga-based Labour list MP and Associate Minister of Education Jan Tinetti said it was a win for schools and the wider community in a post-Covid world.
She said she visited the schools often and was pleased the high-growth Pāpāmoa and Lakes areas were being recognised.
"I'm really excited that they can plan for their growth going forward, knowing that they're going to be able to build modern, fit-for-purpose classrooms, not having to squeeze into alternated spaces."
- Additional reporting Samantha Motion