Map mixup for bus zoning

The long-running saga of the school bus zone for Pleasant Point has been complicated by the parties involved working off different maps.

It is not clear when the maps changed.

Following the closure of Pleasant Point High School in 2004, students in the area were provided with free transport to their school of choice within the region.

This formed a Transport Entitlement Zone (TEZ) map.

Opihi College approached the Ministry of Education in 2012 with a ministry-reformulated TEZ, given to the school in 2009.

It entitled Pleasant Point pupils to free transport only to Opihi College.

The Aoraki School Transport Network (ASTN) is contracted by the ministry to provide school bus transport assistance for students.

For the past 4 years ASTN bus co-ordinator Sandy McAlwee has been operating on the map created after Pleasant Point High School's dissolution in 2004.

"This is the current TEZ; it has not changed [since 2004]," McAlwee said.

"There's been no arrangement [to change the TEZ]. No ifs, buts or maybes."

He said if they had been encroaching on Opihi College's TEZ, they would have stepped away.

However a spokesperson for the ministry said the 2004 map McAlwee believed to be correct was not the current TEZ for Opihi College.

Opihi College board of trustees chairman Murray Prentice believed the ministry had sent Opihi the revised TEZ map in 2009.

"I was not on the board then, but I believe it to be so.

"That's the date on the map," he said.

He said the board examined the TEZ maps in 2012 and approached the ministry.

The ministry's head of infrastructure Kim Shannon said the original TEZ was a temporary transport agreement between local neighbouring schools.

It allowed students to claim transport assistance to attend the school of their choice, she said.

Shannon said a 2004 letter to schools made clear the agreement did not preclude any future revision.

"Those schools were advised last year that the arrangement would be phased out from next year [2015] and that national eligibility guidelines, which apply to all students across the country, would take effect."

The ministry was unable to comment on when the TEZ was changed, and could not confirm if the ASTN had been informed of the change.

A TEZ map featured on the ministry website is the same map Opihi College was given in 2009.

The ministry has decided to put the matter to one side for a year, which McAlwee said was appropriate.

The Timaru Herald