School is caught out by zoning

Grantlea Downs School may be in the unusual position of having a transport route which does not match its enrolment zone if negotiations fail.

The Ministry of Education's national policy is that schools' transport entitlement zone (TEZ) has an end boundary halfway to the next closest school.

Before Seadown School was merged into Grantlea in 2004, the transport zone covered the enrolment zone. With the changes Arowhenua School agreed to allow Grantlea into its TEZ to bus year 1 to 6 students into Timaru from Seadown. For year 7 and 8s halfway is between Opihi College and Grantlea.

The halfway policy would cut a swathe in Seadown and marginalise a proportion of students who would be in Grantlea's enrolment zone but would not be entitled to transport to the school.

Grantlea principal Dave Hawkey said that while the ministry's policy was not new it just had not been enforced as it was a complex situation when the schools first merged.

"Perhaps they think they are in a better position to put it in place."

Still in negotiations with the ministry, Mr Hawkey said he just wanted to try to get the best fit for his students. He understood the ministry did not want to allow the status quo to be retained as it was a compromise and would set a precedent for the rest of the country.

"Arowhenua School has been generous allowing our school bus in their zone, which is further than the halfway point, and we are grateful."

The problem was that the loose agreement had not been set in concrete and funding issues arose for a school when it did not travel to the set half way point.

Arowhenua School did not want to comment on the issue as it had been discussed by its board of trustees and was now a closed topic.

The Timaru Herald