An enrolment scheme for Te Awamutu College could divide rural communities, out-of-zone parents warn.
A public consultation meeting for the enrolment zone was held at the college on Monday. Ministry of Education lead advisor Patrick Broman and senior advisor Holly Chapman led the meeting.
The Te Awamutu News revealed plans for zoning two weeks ago, when concerns about the boundary lines running through rural communities were raised.
Residents from Te Pahu, Ngāhinapōuri, Korakonui, and Ngutunui school zones voiced concerns this week.
Board of Trustees chair Craig Yarndley encouraged people to express their views.
“If you want your argument heard, be loud about it, we can only give our view as a board,” he told the meeting.
The schools are within the proposed enrolment zone, but their individual enrolment zones extend beyond it. Concern was raised that in its current form, the proposed zone would leave students behind.
A resident from Ngutunui said it would destroy the feel of their communities.
“We sort of feel like our school community is being cut in half,” said a Te Pahu resident.
A Ngāhinapōuri resident of 24 years said Melville, which under the proposed enrolment zone would become their next schooling option, was not their community.
“This (Te Awamutu) is our community. We pay our rates here, we come here for swimming, we come here for the library.
“I think if you have got a school that is in the zone, surely you would, out of kindness, let all of the students from the school go to the same college.”
Chapman told the group that Te Awamutu College deputy principal Wayne Carter advocated for the feeder schools to be included in the enrolment zone.
“Prior to Wayne giving his recommendations, those schools would have been excluded all together, because they’re outside of the transport entitlement zone,” said Chapman.
“The lines have been drawn to include those schools, but we don’t know how far it needs to go necessarily, because we don’t live in your communities.”
Residents on the southern side of the boundary would be zoned for Ōtorohanga College. One resident asked the ministry what was being done to make Ōtorohanga a more attractive option for them.
“We are putting in an enrolment zone at Te Awamutu College,” responded Chapman.
Broman said increasing the roll of Ōtorohanga College – which is considerably smaller than Te Awamutu’s roll – could allow the school to offer a wider range of subject choices.
“Our first stick in the sand, is we need to protect our local area,” Yarndley said.
Currently, 13 per cent of Te Awamutu College students come from outside of the proposed zone.
Chapman said that normally enrolment schemes are flagged by the ministry when a school reaches 85 per cent of its roll capacity. But Te Awamutu College is currently at 96 per cent, with its school roll sitting at 1342, out of a maximum of 1400 students.
The consultation period for the enrolment scheme closes on July 24, submissions to which can be made online until then.
Upon the conclusion of the consultation period, the ministry will review the feedback, and draft another proposal.