Proposed school zones cause upset

ROSE CAWLEY
Last updated 13:07 21/07/2014

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A public school turf war has broken out in the quiet Auckland suburbs of Greenlane and Remuera.

Parents from two elite Auckland public schools are up in arms after learning of a proposal to put them in an overlapping zone with two lower decile schools.

The Ministry of Education advised One Tree Hill College and Selwyn College to put enrolment schemes in place due to rapid roll growth.

Both schools are consulting with the community before submitting the schemes to the ministry for approval.

The proposed home zones would overlap with Epsom Girls Grammar School and Auckland Grammar School.

Parent Matthew Hooton owns a house in the proposed overlap and says the consultation has been "wholly unsatisfactory".

The process had been rushed and parents still didn't know the basis behind the zone overlap, he said.

Many parents were anxious that eventually these houses would be excluded from the Epsom Girls and Grammar zones, he said.

This had spurred a group of parents to inquire about taking legal action, Hooton said.

"You live in this area because you pay $100,000 more for your house so you can access Epsom Girls Grammar and Auckland Grammar School," he said.

"Any perceived threat to these zones will be met with fierce resistance."

However, in an email to parents this morning Epsom Girls Grammar principal Madeline Gunn said that the uncertain future of the school's zone could soon be decided.

"At the meeting we had with the ministry on Thursday assurance was given that the proposed shared zones would not be separated off at a later date by the ministry," Gunn said.

The school was waiting for written confirmation, she added.

Parent Jo Thomson has one child at Epsom Girls and another at Grammar. Her third child is set to attend Epsom Girls in 2016.

Being in the One Tree Hill College zone would be fine, as long as the right for her children to attend Epsom Girls and Grammar wasn't taken away, she said.

"It is a shame because this should be a reason for One Tree Hill to celebrate, but it is turning into a mud-slinging match," Thomson said.

This was because parents who lived in the Epsom Girls and Grammar zones had already made clear decisions which school they wanted their children to attend, she said.

"I know where I want my kids to go to school," she said.

"They are going to the public schools that achieve some of the very best academic results. Why would I want my child, given the choice, to go somewhere that doesn't."

Selwyn College and One Tree Hill College have both extended the submission period to 5pm on August 4. 

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