Ministry's removed $8m classrooms from WHS may need to return

by Lauren Pattemore - Mar 08, 2024

With Queenstown's only public high school forecast to hit capacity in three years, the Ministry of Education continues to look for potential sites for a second school, and removed temporary classrooms may have to return.

Seventeen temporary classrooms were built on the current Frankton site for $8 million as the school underwent upgrades. 

These buildings were removed, despite Wakatipu High School principal Oded Nathan's requests to the Ministry of Education that the temporary classrooms would need to be returned to the school in the next few years and that they should remain at the site.

"Our numbers suggest that we're likely to reach capacity with the current site and buildings in 2027," Mr Nathan says.

The classrooms were relocated for $950,000 to Spreydon School, Alexandra School and Queenstown Primary School, with the last classroom removed in January.

As capacity looms, Mr Nathan says the school is encouraging the ministry to stay ahead of the curve and plan to have more spaces for teaching and learning by 2027 at the latest.

Ministry of Education property head Sam Fowler says the ministry is working with Wakatipu High School and the community this year to find solutions to support them in the future with their capacity concerns.

"This may involve temporary teaching spaces, the timing of which will depend on the rolls over the next two to three years."

The school roll in 2024 has hit 1,459, growing by 40 percent in the last four years. Wakatipu High School's maximum roll has gone up to 1,625 as the school underwent significant permanent expansion work. 

The Ministry of Education's South Island leader Nancy Bell says the ministry has identified potential sites for another high school in town and is engaged in negotiations.

"However, as previously stated, further details are confidential to protect the landowners and Crown’s commercial interests. We are not able to provide an estimate of when those negotiations will conclude.

"We are working closely with Wakatipu High School about roll changes and anticipated enrolments and will continue to do so."

Crux understands the ministry has been engaged in new school site discussions for a number of years.

Mr Nathan acknowledges despite the growth challenges ahead the school is in a good place in many ways.

"We have a beautiful, state of the art campus that currently has sufficient space and flexibility for which we are very grateful. 

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