Schools bursting at the seams
Waikato children are being taught in hallways and staffrooms as schools struggle with too many kids.
And the problem is getting worse: 67 of the region’s schools are over official capacity and 42 are at risk of being overcrowded.
Te Wharekura o Te Kaokaoroa o Patetere in Putaruru, for instance, has 189 students, but only enough resources for 150. It is one of a growing number of schools struggling to stay afloat, according to a government report.
The kura’s principal, Keith Silveira, expects the roll to grow to 200 by the end of the year.
Although there has been no disruption to his students’ learning, every space in the kura is utilised.
‘‘Even break-out spaces and teacher workrooms are being used,’’ Silveira said.
‘‘It means timetables are adjusted to ensure the sports centre and the science laboratories are utilised at all times.’’
Silveira said numbers are boosted by families returning from Australia and Auckland. The Ministry of Education has granted an ‘‘expansion package’’, so the kura will get more space in 2018.
The Ministry report shows 214 schools around the country were considered over capacity in 2015, while 488 were at risk of becoming overcrowded.
The report found that the schools at greatest risk of overcrowding did not have enrolment schemes in place.
‘‘ Timetables are adjusted to ensure the sports centre and the science laboratories are utilised at all times.’’ Keith Silveira
One such school was Hamilton East School, on Dawson Street, which was only zoned last year.
The school began looking at zoning schemes to manage the school’s growing roll and safeguard against overcrowding.
Numbers had steadily increased over the last five years, from 278 in 2010 to 406 as of April 2017.
But the Waikato schools struggling with overcrowding are not a high priority for the ministry.
Priority projects are Rototuna Junior and Senior High and a new primary school set to open in 2019 in Hamilton’s northeast.
Head of sector enablement and support for the ministry, Katrina Casey, said the report provided a starting point for a conversation with schools about what their needs are.
Te Wharekura o Te Kaokaoroa o Patetere principal Keith Silveira.