Roll numbers on increase at schools

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TWO Invercargill schools are bulging at the seams, but while one is getting new classrooms to accommodate its growing roll, the other is making do.
Donovan Primary School is getting a new $350,000 classroom — the fifth the Government has funded in the past 18 months.
Waverley Park School had been using its library for classes for two years and this year had also begun using the hall, but is ineligible for additional classrooms.
Donovan principal Peter Hopwood said two classrooms built last year were already at capacity. Two more were expected to be delivered within the next couple of months and the fifth was expected to be on site within the next 12 months.
Until the extra classrooms arrived, classes were being held in the library and board-owned buildings previously used for intervention and special education classes, he said.
The school’s roll increased from 265 pupils in July last year to 454 on Monday last week — a 71.3% increase in just over a year.
Mr Hopwood said the increase was due to more families moving into its zone. The school was not accepting out of zone enrolments at present but was obligated to take in all children within the zone, he said.
‘‘We have had to turn a lot of [out of zone] people away… We have to protect the zone for those who are eligible so there is room for them.’’
Waverley Park principal Kerry Hawkins said the school had capacity for 262 pupils and, as of Monday last week, its roll was 306.
Typically the school would have 35 to 45 pupils in both Year 4 and 5, but at present it had 60 to 70 in each, he said.
‘‘Maybe there was a power cut or something was put in the water. It is just a blip.’’
The need for extra classrooms would diminish once the Year 4 and 5 group had moved on in a couple of years, he said.
The school did not qualify for additional classrooms anyway because the Ministry of Education (MoE) only took into account pupils living within the zone, he said.
‘‘If you take out the children who live out of zone, we would fit the existing space.’’
The school had been enforcing its zone for the past two years, but there were many rental properties in the area. Some pupils who had been living within the zone when they enrolled had since moved outside the zone, and there was no obligation for families to change schools, Mr Hawkins said.
MoE education infrastructure service head Jerome Sheppard said Waverley Park School had become overcrowded because it was ‘‘choosing’’ to take a large number of pupils from outside its zone.
Enrolment zones were intended to prevent over-crowding and the MoE provided learning space based on the school’s zone, he said.
‘‘We are happy to work with the school if it needs support in managing roll numbers.’’
Donovan Primary School had sufficient space to be able to handle the growth, and the ministry did not intend to reduce its zone at this time, he said.
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