Schools grapple with roll growth
‘‘ We think we are OK for the next 12 to 24 months.’’
Unprecedented growth around the Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago districts is putting pressure on schools - two of which are over capacity and others at risk of becoming overcrowded.
A Ministry of Education report reveals Wanaka’s Mt Aspiring College is sitting at 103 per cent capacity, while Alexandra’s Dunstan High School is at 101 per cent capacity.
The ministry defines ‘‘capacity’’ as 100 per cent use of a school’s buildings and ‘‘overcrowded’’ as any school operating above 85 per cent capacity.
These figures relate to 2015 and 2016 roll data. Some schools may have lost students or gained buildings since then.
Dunstan High School principal Reece Goldsmith said the roll had been steadily increasing over the past fives years from about 500 to 530. This year, there was a spike pushing the roll up to 573.
‘‘We will sit around 570 for 2018. Then we have another big group coming through in 2019. We haven’t looked past that. We think we are OK for the next 12 to 24 months, but after that all bets are off for our ability to cope with another large spike of 40 to 50 students.’’
The ministry had missed about ’’four or five’’ teaching spaces in its report. The school was using spaces, including a common room, gym and board of trusteeowned buildings, for teaching, he said.
‘‘So probably 101 per cent is based on old information. We are probably more likely 85-90 per cent capacity.’’
For Year 9-13 rolls, capacity is projected to exceed 95 per cent in the Queenstown Lakes District within the next five years and in Central Otago in about 10 years.