Puke­hou kids need a new bus

CHB Mail - - NEWS -

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.

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