The new town that will sprout on Unitec’s land over the next 10-15 years will have no impact on the roll at Gladstone School – the Ministry of Education has agreed to cut the huge block from the school’s zone.
The decision by the ministry to allow the school board of trustees to amend the zone was confirmed to Mt Albert Inc yesterday.
It will be greeted with enthusiasm by in-zone parents and home-owners because it eliminates the risk of a future flood of pupils from the housing developments on the Unitec Institute of Technology land.
If the present zone had been left untouched, Gladstone could not have turned away those pupils and might have been forced in the future to contract its traditional catchment to the east of Carrington Rd.
The concern of some parents and property owners was further stoked earlier this year when the ministry required Mt Albert Primary to introduce its own zone.
The result: a wide belt over-lapping the Gladstone zone, extending south-west to Alexis Ave and Asquith Ave, allowing parents to choose between the two schools.
Local worries seemed to be based on the theory that in time Gladstone – one of the biggest primary schools in New Zealand – might be forced by a rising roll to cut its zone, leaving Mt Albert Primary exclusively with much of the overlap.
[Rightly or wrongly, Gladstone is seen as the local “school of choice” on the northern side of the mountain, though the appointment of a new principal at Mt Albert Primary – herself a former Gladstone deputy-principal – gives the promise of a challenge to that status in the future.]
While the Unitec block at present has no homes – and, therefore, no children – the medium-to-long-term plan is to build a new campus in a more compact space and create up to 3000 new homes on the rest of the land.
With the amendment now in place – and taking effect from the new school year – Gladstone is effectively planning for the future, allowing it to retain its core catchment to the east of Carrington Rd, and to the south of the Unitec land.
As Mt Albert Inc has previously reported, the ministry is making no provision for a secondary or primary school within the Unitec development, and its endorsement of the Gladstone application is hardly a surprise. It is satisfied Avondale College, Avondale Intermediate and Waterview Primary can handle the pressure.
In a statement confirming the zone amendment, the ministry said removing the Unitec land would help the board to manage its future roll, which was already at capacity.
The new development, which is expected to produce up to 3000 new homes, “could yield up to 500 students over the next 15 years”, said the ministry statement.
“These students will be in the Waterview School home zone. We will ensure that there is appropriate capacity to deal with the growth over the next 15 years and beyond.”
Earlier, before the decision was revealed, Gladstone principal Dave Shadbolt said cutting out the Unitec block would make no difference to families covered by the existing zone.
He pointed out the school roll had stabilised and, at a little over 930, was now 10-15 children down on last year’s total.
While more intensive housing meant there was the potential for the roll to expand in the future, the school at the moment “is managing fine, with no big class sizes”.