Allenton zone could shrink

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Allenton School principal Bruce Tilby in the school playground near where the first building work will take place.

The Ministry of Education is reviewing – and could potentially reduce – the current enrolment zone of Allenton School.

The current school zone covers a large area of northwest Ashburton, stretching west from State Highway 1, north across rural Dromore and back down the Methven Highway to Alford Forest Road and West Street.

The ministry has directed the school to carry out community consultation on the zoning because it sees significant residential growth in the current zone, is worried about school overcrowding and wants to consider if other nearby schools can take up the extra capacity, says Allenton School principal Bruce Tilby.

Mr Tilby said the school had known it was at capacity for the past three or four years and had been in discussion with the ministry over that time.

It had a masterplan that would support roll growth over the next five to 10 years and wanted to proceed with that.

As part of the plan, a new capital project would start in April that would see seven teaching spaces replace five old prefab classrooms.

The project would take the school capacity to 430, which was still below the 440 who finished last year’s school year.

“The ministry has indicated that it wants to look at the enrolment scheme home zone first, before it will consider further capital projects,” said Mr Tilby.

The school board of trustees did not support a zone reduction because it did not believe it would make any difference to overcrowding in the short or medium term.

“The board believes that much of our future roll growth will come from new subdivisions in the current Allenton zone and where we are the closest school for many kilometres,” he said.

The ministry has indicated that an area that includes Elizabeth Street, Cross Street and other streets near Oak Grove has the potential to be included in the Ashburton Borough School zone.

Another area under consideration is between Ashburton College and State Highway 1, an area mid-way between Allenton, Borough and Netherby schools.

Mr Tilby said Netherby School’s roll was at full capacity, but he was not sure about Borough’s.

“We have real safety concerns for children who could potentially have to travel across the state highway and other busy roads like Oak Grove and Walnut Avenue to go to alternative schools.”

Mr Tilby is encouraging Allenton parents, residents and any others with an interest in the zoning to complete a short survey indicating a preference for the school’s enrolment zone.

A survey link and enrolment scheme details can be found on the school website allenton.school.nz

-By Mick Jensen