Masterton primary schools are bursting at the seams with some crying out for new classrooms to keep up with their burgeoning rolls.
The situation has become so bad that one principal is eyeing up the school’s staffroom and library as more teaching spaces to house pupils.
Masterton Primary School principal Sue Walters said the massive growth of the school, which has been a net gain of 84 pupils over the year, was totally unprecedented.
“I’ve run out of classrooms, next year we are probably going to lose our library and our staffroom,” she said.
Two teachers were working in a classroom with 35 new entrants in it, she said.
“There’s supposed to be 15.
“I’ve had to put in an enrolment scheme, that will come into effect at the beginning of next year.”
The zone will extend up to Worksop Rd and Johnstone St in the north and abuts the zones of Fernridge School and Solway Primary School.
“If you have a four-year-old and you live in our zone and you want to enrol them in MPS please let us know ASAP.”
Masterton Intermediate School (MIS) was also swelling as it maintains its steadily climbing numbers.
There were 340 pupils in December 2014, 362 pupils in December 2015 and 439 pupils in December 2016.
It was finishing up the school year with 484 pupils.
Principal Russell Thompson said the school was prepared to go to 520 next year if needed.
Children from across Wairarapa attended MIS, with a good number coming from Featherston and with the addition of two children from Alfredton next year, there was almost 100kms between the homes of some of them.
Mr Thompson did not want to see zoning introduced to the school as it was the only intermediate in the region.
“I’m a believer that if a child wants to go to immediate they should be able to.”
Mr Thompson said he had only used zoning as a tool once in his lifetime and did not want to resort to it again.
“We hope we don’t have to but we understand we can’t have 600 kids here.”
It had been difficult turning away families due to zoning in the past.
“I do not want to do that in my lifetime again,” Mr Thompson said.
“I just put myself in the position, they [the families] were absolutely upset, and thought how would I feel if that was my grandchild or had it been my children.”
Fernridge School principal Janine Devenport will be returning to the classroom to teach two mornings a week next year to take care of her burgeoning roll, which increased by about 26 pupils over the course of this year.
“We are chocka, and our senior classes next year are very large,” she said.
Each senior class would have numbers in the 30s, she said.
“We’ve had to close out of zone enrolments in June for next year.”
There were four balloted places and there were people who had missed out.
“Everybody has to be in zone now to come here because we just don’t have any other places.”
Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott said there was an influx of people coming into Wairarapa.
“It’s a good problem, it demonstrates that things are going well because people are choosing to come to Wairarapa.”
If people were leaving and there were empty classrooms it would “not be good at all”.
It would provide opportunities for teachers and builders, he said.
Places still available
A ministry of education spokeswoman Katrina Casey said they worked hard to make sure there was space to accommodate every child in every region.
“We have been closely monitoring the number of students in Masterton and Wairarapa, to make sure there is enough space for students across the schooling network.
“As of October 10, 2017, there were 3119 student spaces in Masterton primary and intermediate schools and 2858 students.
“This figure includes a number of students that travel to Masterton from Carterton, Featherston and across the Wairarapa.”
She said to prevent the risk of overcrowding they had been working closely with some schools in Masterton to implement enrolment schemes – including Masterton Primary School.
“Encouraging schools to use an enrolment scheme to help manage their roll means building new classrooms is not necessarily the first response when a school is concerned about its capacity.
“We are happy to work with any school that has concerns about capacity to support their planning for future growth.”
Greytown School principal Patrice O’Connor has been grappling with a booming roll since she started as the principal this year and has had to turn away about 30 families due to the zone constraints.
“We are the only school in Greytown so we are in a very unusual position compared to a lot of schools,” she said.
Even though the zone had been in place all year the school still had to provide for all of Greytown, she said.
“We have grown quite substantially, we have grown by about 65 children, next year we are continuing to grow.”
She was expecting to have about 415 pupils next year compared to 387 they were finishing this year with.
“It’s hard to determine, we learnt this year, children just arrive. There are ones that we know of, but equally there are quite a few we don’t know coming from out of the area and moving into Greytown.”
Next year there will be 15 classrooms, two more than there were at the start of the year.