Out of zone school bus rethink

Photo: Wanaka Sun Archives

The announcement two weeks ago of the new zones for Wanaka Primary and the to-be-built Wanaka South Primary was met with some relief but also some concern. Parents finally have certainty over which school their children will go to but for those who choose to stay at Wanaka Primary even though they are out-of-zone, there were some rumbles of discontent that there would no longer be a school bus.

The Ministry of Education’s guidelines on provision of buses states: students from Years 1-8 must live more than 3.2km from the school. The new boundary around Wanaka Primary does not exceed 3.2km at any point and hence the initial announcement that there would no longer be any buses.

However, last week, at a public consultation meeting between Wanaka Primary School Board of Trustees and parents, the issue became a significant sticking point.

“Bus transport was a significant issue for the parent who attended the consultation meeting,” said Andrew Howard, BOT chair. “The feedback was that whether or not their children will be able to access bus transport is an important factor in deciding which school to attend. The current position of the Ministry of Education is that children who are currently able to access bus transport will still be able to after the enrolment zone takes effect.”

This reversal of the earlier announcement that there would be no bus for out-of-zoners was met with relief by those who were stuck in no-man’s-land with one or two children already committed to Wanaka Primary School and wanting younger siblings, some just babies now, to attend with them. However, there is still ambiguity about how long the out-of-zone buses would run for.

Kim Shannon, Head of Education Infrastructure Service at the Ministry of Education said: “We are working with Wanaka schools and the Regional Council to determine the mix of Ministry and Council-funded school bus services. Enrolment zones do not of themselves create eligibility for Ministry-funded school transport assistance, so we are working closely with the schools to ensure there is a transition plan in place.”



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