Pri­mary school for Aotea?

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By KRIS DANDO

The drums are beat­ing for a pri­mary school to be built in Aotea, but the prin­ci­pal of nearby Pa­pakowhai School has sounded a warn­ing.

Rod­ney Strong, chair­man of Aotea Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion, met Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cials last week to dis­cuss the is­sue.

Aotea is one of the fastest grow­ing sub­urbs in Porirua and most of it is zoned Pa­pakowhai School. Strong said hav­ing a pri­mary school in Aotea would cut down trav­el­ling times and cre­ate a stronger sense of com­mu­nity.

He con­ceded get­ting the school built could be a long process.

‘‘Aotea’s go­ing to con­tinue to grow and there is that de­sire that kids on the same street go to the same school,’’ he said.

‘‘It helps build re­la­tion­ships and the com­mu­nity be­comes stronger be­cause of it.

‘‘At the mo­ment, you can get a sce­nario of five kids liv­ing next door to each an­other, but go­ing to dif­fer­ent schools. We want to walk our kids to class.’’

Pa­pakowhai School prin­ci­pal Mark Smith said the is­sue was com­pli­cated.

He said there was breath­ing room to dis­cuss the is­sue with all par­ties be­cause a new school was to be years away.

His school has a roll of 350 and could man­age an­other 200.

‘‘If they build a school in Aotea, then the pres­sure would come off us, cer­tainly,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s about find­ing that bal­ance, be­cause we don’t want a roll of 700. Then again you don’t want one of 150 and hav­ing to start lay­ing off staff.

‘‘People who are alarmist about the size of our school don’t have kids who go here.’’

Smith said his school had been in talks with the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion over likely roll in­creases and pop­u­la­tion growth in their zone.

There was also ca­pac­ity in nearby schools, he said.

‘‘The Min­istry should be look­ing at the net­work as a whole in Porirua.

‘‘To spend mil­lions on a new school when there is room else­where is a hard ask.’’

Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion Hekia Parata said bur­geon­ing sub­urbs and shift­ing pop­u­la­tions were two im­por­tant fac­tors when de­cid­ing whether to build a new school.

‘‘The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion continues to mon­i­tor the Aotea area and the schools that al­ready ser­vice the area, and will take into ac­count the 2013 Cen­sus in­for­ma­tion to in­form any fu­ture plan­ning,’’ she said.

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