New Rangiora school could be SI's largest

CHARLEY MANN
Last updated 05:00 08/03/2013

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The South Island's biggest primary school, with room for up to 800 pupils, could be operating in Rangiora within four years.

It will reshape the existing school enrolment zones and could employ about 30 teachers, as more people pour into the town's new subdivisions.

Waimakariri MP Kate Wilkinson yesterday said the school would soon be needed to cope with Rangiora's population surge.

"It is still in the very early planning stages - a site is still to be identified and design and construction timeframes confirmed - but the school is currently projected to be needed by 2017," Wilkinson said.

It is one of 15 schools that will be built in greater Christchurch in the next 10 years as part of the Government's $1 billion investment in education in the region.

If Rangiora's new school does grow to 800 pupils, it will be the largest full primary school in the South Island, catering for year 1 to year 8 pupils.

Rolleston Primary School is currently the largest. Last February it had more than 700 pupils enrolled.

Balmoral School in Auckland has the country's largest full primary school roll, with 850 enrolled this time last year.

Across the country, 38 primary schools have rolls between 600 and 800.

Waimakariri Mayor David Ayres said the school was needed to cater for Waimakariri's population growth.

In 2012 the council processed more than 1050 dwelling consents, with at least 300 of those for houses in Rangiora.

It has received more than 200 dwelling consents this year.

"If you extrapolate that out over a year, we could be looking at 1200 dwelling consents this year," Ayres said.

Rangiora Borough School principal Alan Sutton said there was still capacity for about 300 additional pupils in the town's three state primary schools.

He had noticed a "steady but not overwhelming" growth in pupil numbers over the past few years.

"It certainly is positive for the area. But I'm hoping that [the ministry] proceed with caution. The capacity of present schools should be explored first," he said.

Ministry of Education deputy secretary for regional operations, Katrina Casey, said the ministry would work with educators to ensure the new school would be provided when demand grows.

The existing schools' enrolment schemes would also have to be altered.

"This would require a change to the enrolment scheme boundaries of the three existing schools," she said.

Rangiora has four subdivisions on the outskirts of the town.

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- The Press

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