Principals convince ministry not to zone

STACEY KNOTT
Last updated 12:58 02/04/2014

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Nelson principals have convinced the Ministry of Education it does not need to zone the region's primary schools.

Principals from Nelson Central, Hampden Street, Victory Primary, Clifton Terrace, Hira, St Joseph's, and Auckland Point met the Ministry of Education last week to discuss school roll numbers.

In January, the Nelson Mail reported on the ministry's plans to zone Nelson city primary schools this year.

The ministry had proposed that Nelson Central School, Hampden Street School, Clifton Terrace School and Victory Primary School were to be zoned by term three this year. However, the principals told the Nelson Mail they were "disappointed" with the decision, which they didn't think was right for the region.

Since then, they had met the ministry to discuss other options.

After the meetings, the ministry said there would be no zoning in the region "over the next few years at least".

The meeting was chaired by Nelson Intermediate principal Hugh Gully, who said it was "very collaborative".

"Each school outlined their position and ability to manage the current situation. Everyone agrees we can manage without zoning."

He said principals expected roll numbers to drop off within the next 10 years, which would alleviate any overcrowding issues.

If there was a problem in the future with managing rolls, the group would "would not hesitate to get around the table again".

Clifton Terrace principal Rob Wemyss was pleased with the outcome.

"We will work together and achieve a positive result for families to choose where they want to go."

Hampden Street principal Don McLean said there was a baby boom in 2006 and again in 2008, but, regarding roll growth, "most people agree most [schools] have quietened down".

Ministry of Education head of sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said the principals came up with a range of ideas for reducing potential overcrowding at their schools, which "means the schools will not need to implement enrolment schemes in the near future".

She said the traditional approach of dealing with overcrowding was to ask the schools to establish enrolment schemes.

However, because the principals did not support the option, the ministry asked them "to work together to look at creative solutions to the problem, and gave them the data they needed to analyse their options".

Casey said it was an effective way to resolve issues, and the ministry would adopt it country-wide.

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