October 1, 2008

New Wanaka School Gets Go-Ahead

By JAMIESON, Debbie in Wanaka

WANAKA PRIMARY SCHOOL staff and pupils cheered when they learned their $21.5 million new school had been given the go-ahead yesterday.

Cabinet Minister David Parker made the announcement at the grounds almost six years after school representatives approached him seeking help with the burgeoning school roll.

Principal Wendy Bamford said the news was awesome.

She began at the school in 2005 with the brief to push forward with plans for the new school.

"It will be very exciting. We can't wait. It's a dream come true," she said.

The school was undergoing a population boom and expected to have a roll of 435 by the end of this year and 500 by the end of 2009.

It is planned that the new school will be opened in 2010.

In the meantime the school had three secondhand buildings arriving and two new, relocatable playgrounds to construct in an attempt to keep up with growth.

Much of the school equipment was kept off site as there was no room for it, chairman of the board Pete Bullen said.

"This will mean (the students') education is not restricted by property problems," he said.

The announcement signalled the end of years of battling by the school community.

In 2004 the Education Ministry bought a new site for the school next to Mount Aspiring College, the most expensive school site purchased in New Zealand at the time, Mr Parker said.

However, battles continued with plans for the two schools to be amalgamated, which were later dismissed, and arguments over the cost.

These issues were being re-litigated until two weeks ago because the cheaper option, by millions of dollars, was to build on the current site, Mr Parker said.

Ultimately it was agreed an energy efficient building with double glazing and the flexible learning spaces sought by teachers would be approved.

"We felt we should do it well and futureproof it for future generations," he said.


(c) 2008 Southland Times, The. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.