New school zones still unknown
Parents face a long wait before they know where they can send children set to be displaced by school closures or mergers.
The Ministry of Education will not be redrawing zones affected by its education overhaul until Minister Hekia Parata announces her final decisions on the shake-up in May.
Even schools set to take displaced pupils do not know how many they should prepare for.
Many primary and intermediate schools operate within a zone, or geographic area that families must live inside, to enrol their children.
The ministry said zoning prevents overcrowding and ensures that enrolment is fair.
Greenpark School, just outside Lincoln, is due to close and pupils do not live in the current enrolment zones for alternative local primaries such as Springston, Lincoln and Tai Tapu even though they have been recommended by the ministry.
Denise Carrick, whose children Rosie, 6, and Thomas, 5, attend Greenpark, said she has more questions than answers.
"They told us they were closing the school one year earlier to give us certainty and clarity but it has done the opposite. We don't know anything."
The only certainty for the Carricks will be a longer commute to an alternative school.
"We don't know if there will be a school bus, or if we will have to drive."
Carrick said it took months of research and visits to decide on Greenpark. If the ministry does not address the zones promptly, she will have just two terms to choose another school.
Greenpark principal Andrea Klassen said because the ministry told her it does not know where the new zones will be, she cannot help parents find alternatives.
Closing the school left parents with less choice, she said. "The whole thing has been an absolute fiasco."
Lincoln Primary School principal Vivienne Butcher said she knew that the school zone was likely to change, but had no idea of the process.
Butcher is keen to help Greenpark parents. "If they want their children to come here, we are comfortable to advocate for them in this zoning process," she said.
The school can accommodate more pupils in temporary classrooms that are on site for the school's ongoing building developments.
The work began before the February 2011 earthquake struck.
An Education Ministry spokesperson said: "The Ministry of Education will initiate discussion regarding enrolment schemes with schools, where necessary, once the minister has made her final decisions about the proposed closures and mergers."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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