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Auckland’s inner city schools swamped by roll growth

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Shopprice New Zealand

Bulging rolls have schools almost bursting at the seams.

Auckland’s school age population is increasing at a dramatic pace and facilities are running out of space.

In August 2014 the Government announced it would invest $350 million over four years to get ahead of demand for education.

Potential development is in the works for many schools however educators are already feeling the pressure.

Grey Lynn School principal Bill Barker has seen his roll reach capacity in recent years.

“We’re going to run out of classrooms this year,” he says.

In 15 years as principal Barker has seen his roll grow from 85 pupils to 387.

“There’s going to be 440 by the end of the year,” he says.

“We can be fairly confident that we’re eventually going to reach 640 pupils.

“That leaves us with quite a dilemma because we’re an inner city school. The only way we can go is up.”

Many city schools are facing the problem of growing rolls, unsuitable buildings and limited space.

Bayfield School officially opened its $12 million redevelopment on July 24 and now has room for 500 children.

“We’re one of the lucky ones,” Bayfield principal Sheryl Fletcher says.

“It’s been a long process so it’s not something that happens quickly.”

The original facilities had watertightness issues which were assessed by the Ministry of Education in 2009.

“Schools are in a state of disrepair and it’s not board of trustees’ fault because they maintain schools as best they can,” Fletcher says.

“It’s just the fact that they are at the end of their natural life, which was the situation for us.”

In 2014 Freemans Bay School and Bayfield School were confirmed for major redevelopments, however Grey Lynn School has yet to receive the tick.

“The pressure is on and as we grow we’re slowly losing our window of opportunity to manage children’s learning,” Barker says.

Projections indicate there will be an extra 107,000 school students in Auckland over the next 30 years.

Barker has been organising plans for a potential redevelopment but says concrete decisions need to be made soon.

“We’re in limbo at the moment,” he says.

“I think we can manage but next year we’re going to need this.”

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