A new school for 900 pupils
A school catering for up to 900 pupils will open its doors in North Canterbury in 2014.
The news comes as many schools throughout the region face closure, merger or relocation.
Waikuku School has been waiting for six years to get the go-ahead from the Education Ministry to move to Pegasus, the fast-growing town just down the road.
The ministry owns more than three hectares at Pegasus, but confirmation the move would happen came through only last month as part of Education Minister Hekia Parata's overhaul of education in Canterbury.
Waikuku School principal Roger Hornblow said the ministry told him the school would be built "as soon as possible".
He believed it was "very achievable" for the new school to be open in time for term three in 2014.
The school would cater for between 600 and 900 pupils from year 1 to year 8, Hornblow said.
It was hoped an early-childhood centre would be built on the site, but a ministry spokesman said there were no firm plans "at this time".
A private early-childhood centre, Nature's Play Preschool, is due to open in the town in December and already has 50 children registered.
Waikuku School's roll was growing rapidly and it desperately needed a new site, Hornblow said.
The school had 170 pupils, up from 130 at the beginning of the year, and was expected to open next year with 200 pupils.
By the end of next year the roll could be between 275 and 350, Hornblow said.
He said it was hard to estimate the roll because no-one knew how many people were going to move into the area with children.
Well over half the school's pupils live at Pegasus.
New buildings have been built at Waikuku School.
The new classrooms will be moved to Pegasus as a feature building like a library, Hornblow said.
"We can't have Waikuku School being on hold for 18 months while Pegasus gets built."
He was not sure how much money would be spent on building the new school, and a ministry spokesman would not say what the budget was.
Amanda Cleminson, who has lived in Pegasus for nearly two years and has three children, aged 6, 4 and 2, said she decided to move to the town partly because she was assured a primary school would be built.
Her eldest has been attending Waikuku School and her daughter is due to start there next year.
"For them to go to a school just down the road from us is ideal," she said. "It will be fantastic."
A ministry spokesman said the new school would address accelerated growth in the area after the earthquakes.
Nature's Play Preschool owner Jenny Tippet said she had the rights to build a second centre in the town, but the timing of that would depend on demand.
She said having a primary school in the town would help bring more families to the area.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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