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School zoning on horizon

PHOTO/FILE

New classroom could solve problem

ELI HILL
[email protected]

A school zone could be set up for Masterton Intermediate School as early as 2021 to decrease class sizes.

The school’s roll has grown from 340 pupils in 2014 to 550 currently and its 18 classrooms are filling up.

Each class held 30 or more pupils at present.

Masterton Intermediate would be unable to prevent the school from becoming overcrowded without an enrolment scheme, Education Ministry deputy secretary of sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said.

“We’ve been working with Masterton Intermediate over the past 18 months to develop and implement an enrolment scheme.

“We’re still working with the school on the proposed enrolment scheme, so aren’t able to share it further yet. However, the scheme will ensure the school isn’t overcrowded and allows local students to attend the school.”

Pupils who lived outside the proposed zone would be able to enrol at any Year 1-8 primary schools that catered for intermediate-aged children.

Pupils would also be able to be considered in a ballot process for any out-of-zone places the school might have.

The enrolment scheme would be started once consultation had occurred, the scheme had been approved by the ministry, and it was adopted at a board meeting.

Casey said a scheme would likely be in place for the 2021 school year.

“This depends on the feedback from consultation. We’re also in discussions with the school about how many students they can accommodate.

“When considering a new enrolment scheme, or changes to an existing one, we must balance the community’s expectations of access to any particular school with the impact that the zone may have on neighbouring schools and the education network as a whole.”

MIS principal Russell Thompson said the school was not rushing into setting up an enrolment zone and there would be plenty of discussion with schools and the community before one was set up.

“There’s 13 major steps to setting it up – we’re around step five.

“Next year we will not have a restricted number of students that can come here, but it may be the case in 2021. If that happens then we want to make sure it’s a fair process.”

Should a zone be set up, Thompson said it would begin south of the Waingawa Bridge so pupils who go to Solway School would still be within the MIS zone.

“We’re quite desperately keen not to be denying people who live in the Masterton district. They will all be able to come to MIS if they choose to.

“Our biggest barrier is the ministry would like us to have 464 students where as we would like to have in the vicinity of 504, which would be 28 in a class.”

Thompson said that while 28 would be the school’s ideal number, with 29 pupils a class the school would be able to teach a maximum of 522 pupils.

When asked whether a new classroom might be an alternative to zoning, Thompson said the school had been asking the ministry the same thing for three years.

“They don’t provide classrooms unless there’s absolute urgency,” he said.

“Part of the idea of going through the enrolment scheme is it may get you more classes.

“The Ministry of Education might do well to pay attention to the huge growth in population in Masterton.”

Thompson said subdivisions meant more children and families had been moving into the Masterton district.

“Are we going to get into the situation in this town where we’re going to have far too many kids and not enough schools?

“We’re trying to not have 40 kids in a class, but at the same time if you want to go to an intermediate, we want you to have that right.”

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