Education funding welcome

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School education in Wanaka is bursting with activity with more than $30 million in projects allocated across the region.

Hawea Flat School is the latest to get much needed additional space, with Education Minister Chris Hipkins announcing last week that four new classrooms would be added to the school, providing space for a further 88 pupils.

Ministry of Education head of education infrastructure service Kim Shannon said the monetary value of commitments to Wanaka since 2017 included $13 million for Mt Aspiring College, $16 million for Wanaka’s new primary school Te Kura O Take Karara and $1.4 million for Wanaka Primary School.

The funding announced for additional classrooms at Hawea Flat School was part of a $27 million package spread over five schools.

They were unable to provide a breakdown of the funding for individual schools as the timeframe for delivery and budget at Hawea Flat would be influenced by the solution agreed with the school, and the overall complexity of the project and site conditions, Ms Shannon said.

Hawea Flat School principal Sue Heath said the school roll was expected to reach 270 by the end of the 2020 year.

“It is great news to think that the ministry has recognised the growth in the area and is actively planning for that.’

At the moment they had 10 classrooms, with junior classes housing between about 22 to 24 pupils and senior classes housing about 25 to 28 pupils, Mrs Heath said.

Mrs Heath was meeting representatives from the ministry today to discuss more details about the announcement.

“I think the projection is that in the short to medium term the school roll will increase by those 88 pupils, but over how many years, be that two years, be that five years, I don’t think anybody is really that sure yet.”

A project for a new school hall was also progressing well, with the board of trustees looking at concept plans.

“That is completely separate because that is not funded by the ministry, that will be a community project.”

The board would be meeting about the hall again in two weeks’ time, Mrs Heath said.

Next steps that were anticipated to be decided at that meeting was to engage a quantity survey to get an indication of costs, before starting to apply for funding.

Wanaka’s Mt Aspiring College was close to beginning its multi-million dollar five-year construction plan.

Principal Wayne Bosley said the school didn’t have a firm construction date as yet but was working with the ministry property team and cabinet and was “expecting something very, very soon”.

The school would have to “decant” some classrooms once construction began, with some reconfiguring to allow for some buildings that would be deconstructed before being rebuilt, he said.

“We’ve got some temporary classrooms already.”

Principal of Wanaka’s new primary school Te Kura O Take Karara, Jodie Howard, said construction was progressing well, with the roof installed last week.

All the classroom blocks were now complete and the building was on track for the school to be finished on time next year

All nine teachers had now been appointed, Mrs Howard said.

Numbers were yet to be finalised but at the moment it was looking like the roll for the new school would be about 100.

“We had a very successful meeting last week with all the Upper Clutha principals,” Mrs Howard said.

Meetings with parents had also taken place and the school was hoping expressions of interest would be received by the end of the term.