Schools grap­ple with roll growth

Central Otago Mirror - - OUT & ABOUT - JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

‘‘ 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.

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