Pro­posal for Aotea school back on ta­ble

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - KRIS DANDO

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.

PHOTO: JOHN NI­CHOL­SON

Pa­pakowahi has a pop­u­lar school with a roll that is full-to-burst­ing.

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