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Funding cuts as school roll swells

Patrice O’Connor became the principal of Greytown School at the start of this year. PHOTO/FILE


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A rapidly increasing roll has forced Greytown school to introducing zoning, with the principal saying a growing town could mean more classrooms in the future.

A leap in decile status from 6 to 8 also means the school will have a significant cut in funding – to the tune of about $20,000 – with the school now looking to the community for ways of fundraising.

Greytown School principal Patrice O’Connor said the school was well-prepared to deal with the growth as the school that had 330 pupils at the start of the year swelled towards an expected 390.

“Greytown itself is growing, so being the only school, we are growing with it,” she said.

“At the moment we have closed our zone temporarily, in order to manage the growth that is happening within our town.

“We are doing that to encourage people outside of the zone to go to their local schools.”

That zoning restriction would remain in place until at least the end of the year, so that the roll would not surpass capacity, she said.

But it will operate on a “case by case basis” so siblings can still attend the same school.

“We are not going to separate our siblings,” Miss O’Connor said.

“Our board is still flexible on that.”

Planning for the roll increase had been a part of the job from day one, and she said they had talked to early childhood centres and real estate agents as a part of that “strategic planning”.

They were also working with the Ministry of Education to get more classrooms in the future when needed, she said.

“Greytown School needs to always be able to provide for our Greytown community.”

Miss O’Connor said they were lucky to have a “healthy reserve” thanks to the strategic choices the board had made over the past few years.

“The decile funding did affect our school because we moved from a 6 to an 8,” she said.

“So it means we do need to be very wise with the money we have, but we have a great board that can do that.”

Greytown School Board of Trustees Chairman Alistair Plimmer said they were turning to the community for fundraising ideas.

“We have not asked for money, we are asking for ideas.”

There were lots of very creative people in the community, he said – “We’d be foolish not to harness that”.

They already had huge support from the community, which included local businesses such as Fresh Choice, Pope and Gray, and Property Brokers.

They really do support the school in so many ways, Mr Plimmer said.

“Financially our school is in a very strong position, our boards over the past few years have been very smart and very prudent with their money,” he said.

“It’s at a position where we have choices, but like all schools we face financial pressures every year.

“Any cut has an impact and we try to mitigate that as soon as possible.”

He said it was not an urgent situation but more about futureproofing.


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