Pukehou kids need a new bus
The Pukehou School community has been left in a tail spin after the Ministry of Education removed the school’s bus run from the beginning of 2019.
The bus run transports 70 pupils to and from school, but there is only one pupil who comes from the school’s “zoned area,” which is well below the Ministry’s threshold for a funded bus run.
The service, which goes to Te Aute Trust Rd, picks up pupils from O¯ tane on the way to perform its designated run in the morning. In the afternoon it then makes its Te Aute Trust Rd run before returning to school to complete the O¯ tane leg.
The remaining 34 pupils who come from the Waipawa and Waipukurau communities use the CHB College and Te Aute College bus run, which does an extra run for Pukehou School.
Pukehou School principal Chris Birch said the ministry was not allowing them to continue this service either.
“The ministry has known that the buses that service the Pukehou community have for many years transported students from the O¯ tane, Waipawa and Waipukurau communities to Pukehou at a parent paid extension [a private contract with the provider],” Mr Birch said. The Ministry has lifted the school’s zoning requirement to allow for the outside students to attend, but this does not affect the availability of a bus.
“We pleaded with the MOE to extend the service for one to two terms and after a community hui it was decided that the community would pull together to purchase a school bus. This is not easy task. The request for an extension was to allow us time to organise drivers, health and safety requirements, purchases etc.”
The request was denied. The school now needs to raise $120,000 for a new bus, driver and other associated costs to enable about three quarters of its pupils to get to class. A community group, the Pukehou Bus Group has been set up to purchase the vehicle.
In recent months, they have fundraised through stalls at the O¯ tane markets, a community auction for goods donated by local businesses, which raised $7840, and a Givealittle page currently at just over $6000.
Mr Birch said a benefactor had also contributed a large amount towards their goal, meaning they needed about $30,000 for the initial start-up and then an expected $20,000 to $25,000 for the fuel, maintenance and driving costs.
Ministry of Education head education infrastructure service Kim Shannon said the current contracted bus route north of Pukehou school, is “simply not viable to run a bus for one student”.
She said to be eligible for assistance, a student needed to be attending their closest school, have no public transport available, and for primary aged pupils, live at least 3.2km away from that school.
“Some parents to the south of the Pukehou School have chosen to bypass their closest schools to go to Pukehou School.”
Mr Birch says the Pukehou School Bus Group has been working tirelessly to fundraise and is currently finalising the purchase of a bus.
“This means there is guaranteed transport for our children next term, but here is still a huge amount of money to be raised.
“Starting a bus company from scratch with all the employment, health and safety policies is no easy task. Thankfully other rural schools who have been through a similar process have come on board and are helping us the best they can.”
■ The school’s givealittle page can be accessed via www.pukehou.school.nz then following the events tab where links have been set up.
Pukehou School students need a replacement bus, after the Ministry of Education removed the school’s bus run from the beginning of 2019.