The proposed zone for Hamilton's long-awaited new secondary school can be revealed - but the southern border is set to become a battlefield.
The enrolment zone for the secondary and intermediate schooling option, scheduled to open in Te Totara in 2016, will probably capture most residents of the north-eastern suburbs.
It is proposed that the eastern boundary will follow Gordonton Road to the township, according to a source.
The northern border is expected to cut west through farmland roughly "halfway to Ngaruawahia" and connect near Horotiu Bridge.
The Waikato River will serve as the western boundary.
However, it is the southern border that has the potential to divide residents and principals when it is opened for public consultation this week.
The Ministry of Education's preferred option is Wairere Drive, but there has also been talk of drawing a line between Thomas Road and Wairere Drive.
Thomas Rd has also been floated as an option for the southern perimeter, but it now seems unlikely as it would exclude many Rototuna residents.
The final decision on the enrolment zone will be made following consultation with residents, principals and others who will be impacted by the new school.
The zoning will have an effect on several school rolls, particularly Fairfield Intermediate and Fairfield College, and also increase demand for houses in the area.
The Ministry of Education will host a public meeting at Fairfield Intermediate School tomorrow night to begin the consultation process.
Hamilton East National MP David Bennett said it was unlikely that the ministry would announce proposed zoning options at the meeting, or any definite plans for the school.
"I think they'll probably leave it quite open. It's probably not in their best interest to put some options out, but they'll have a fair idea of where they'd want to go, I'd imagine."
He said the ministry was "very coy" when asked about the southern zone boundary.
"You can pretty much guarantee the northern part of it would be pretty easy to determine, so it's really the southern boundary that's going to be the crucial thing. That will be what most residents will take a particular interest in and schools would take a particular interest in as well," he said.
"No decisions have been made. They're basically saying it's up for consultation during this process."
He said it was important parents and interested parties attended the meeting to have their say about the zone.
Residents will also be consulted on the most suitable type of school for the area.
The options include separate intermediate and secondary schools; a combined year 7-13 school; or a junior high (year 7-10) and senior high (year 11-13) arrangement.
The ministry will also be seeking expressions of interest for the school's establishment board of trustees.
Fairfield Intermediate School principal Barry Roberts said he would like the southern boundary to be Thomas Road, to reduce the impact on his roll, but felt that was unlikely.
He said Wairere Dr was the most probable option for the southern zone boundary, which will have a "large impact" on his school.
He said the ministry's idea of consultation was "telling us what to do . . . that generally seems to be how consultation goes these days and I'd like to be proven wrong on that one".
Rototuna Primary School principal Mike Sutton said there was a lot of interest in the new school.
"Zone boundaries by nature are going to be very interesting for people. It does influence lots of choices."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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