Free school buses to continue

AUDREY MALONE
Last updated 05:00 29/05/2014

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Pleasant Point high school students are set to get free bus rides to their school of choice for at least the next 15 months.

Last year the Ministry of Education decided buses from Pleasant Point would only be funded in accordance with the Transport Entitlement Zone (TEZ) from the beginning of the 2015 school year.

Opihi College had alerted the ministry to zoning changes for the Pleasant Point TEZ. That had meant that from next year the ministry was no longer funding buses to transport pupils from Pleasant Point to schools in Timaru and Geraldine. The only free buses available to Pleasant Point students were to be those going to Opihi College in Temuka.

However, Associate Minister of Education Nikki Kaye has announced the ministry will continue to fully fund buses for students to attend the schools of their choice within the district for another 15 months.

Geraldine High School bus co-ordinator Mark Hayward said he is happy with the extra time given.

"Yes, it's good news. People will be able to plan ahead," he said.

The extra time was one of his main aims, allowing parents the chance to plan for either changing schools or sorting out acceptable transport if the funded buses were discontinued. He hoped the "status quo" would be the final outcome.

However, he said the worst-case scenario would be a staggered approach where the students currently attending would continue to have the opportunity to do so, while new students would fall into the TEZ.

Aoraki School Transport Network co-ordinator Sandy McAlwee said it was a positive move.

"It allows the Point community time to come to a proper negotiated agreement."

Kaye said the extension would give schools and communities extra time to work out their transport arrangements.

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- The Timaru Herald

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