By Mick Jensen
A major rebuild and refurbishment of Allenton School over the next few years is long overdue and will mean a “bit of pain for ultimately a lot of gain”, says principal Bruce Tilby.
Funding of between $4.5 million and $5 million was confirmed for six new classrooms in February last year and funding for a seventh classroom was confirmed last week by the Ministry of Education.
Bruce Tilby said it was exciting times for the school and the opportunity to future proof.
“We have a lot of older buildings that are really past their use by date, some from the 1950s, others from the 1960s, and although we have spruced them up over the years, they are not ideal.”
He said new buildings and major refurbishments had been discussed over the last 10 years and now, at last, it was happening.
He said the school was halfway through a three-year process and close to submitting a draft master plan to the ministry.
Over the past 18 months a project team, that included himself and board of trustee members, had looked at what the school had, what it needed and how things could be achieved.
Architects Maguire and Harford had come up with designs, alongside input from Beca and AP design.
Mr Tilby said the school believed it still needed two further classrooms to cope with future roll growth, which was at 406, expected to rise to 430 by the end of the year and projected to be 500 over the next few years.
Pupils were jammed into the school, with a junior class using a breakout room, a fourth new entrant class using the library from term four and a senior class in the school hall’s supper room.
Ministry funds would allow the building of a five-classroom block for the middle school and another classroom based on roll growth in the senior school.
Although funding for a seventh classroom had just been approved, details were still unclear, he said.
Because of the linear layout of the existing buildings, the architects had designed a plan that created “a heart for the school”.
The first building work is expected to start in February next year on the Allens Road side of the school, with an opening 12 months later.
The courts area and part of the large playground will be used for the five new classrooms.
Building areas would be fenced off, but it would be “mostly business as usual”, although some disruption was inevitable, said Bruce Tilby.
The new classrooms would be flexible learning spaces, more comfortable and fit for purpose.
Other refurbishments and the likely relocation of the school office, staff room and other areas, would all be included in the draft plan, which was expected to be submitted in the next few weeks, said Mr Tilby.