Proposal for Aotea school back on table
Aotea might get its primary school after all.
Despite an indication in May that any proposal for a school in the expanding Porirua suburb was not likely to happen, the Ministry of Education announced on August 22 that community feedback was being sought on ‘‘how options for future schooling can support these pathways into Aotea College’’.
The range of options could include a new primary school for Aotea but views would be sought from the community in the last school term this year and the first of next year.
The suburb’s residents association chairman Rodney Strong said it was a welcome about-face from the Ministry’s previous position, which stated that population projections weren’t strong enough to justify building a school.
‘‘We were pleasantly surprised with the decision as we thought this was something that was well off the table,’’ he said. ‘‘Papakowhai School [which most of Aotea is zoned for] has got two new classrooms and is chocka, as are the schools in Whitby. Any solution could be years away but it’s up to us to present our case strongly again.’’
Land has been set aside by Aotea developer Carrus for a school on Frances Brown Ave.
Papakowhai School principal Mark Smith said the Ministry’s move was a positive one. Discussions on social media and among his school’s community was con- stant about their near-capacity, so a formal process would be an appropriate way to have all views aired.
‘‘We’re running a pretty full roll alongside steady growth in Aotea but it’s been something that’s been well-managed so far. It is an issue that does concern parents so the wider the engagement on possible solutions, the better. It might be that we need another school, or increase capacity in existing schools.’’
Aotea College principal Kate Gainsford said no position had been taken by the Board of Trustees on whether a new school was warranted.
Wellington Director of Edu- cation Suze Strowger said all feedback would be considered and it need not be narrow.
‘‘This is an opportunity to broaden the conversation about the future of education in Porirua.’’
A final decision is likely to be made mid-2017.
Papakowahi has a popular school with a roll that is full-to-bursting.