Zone Review update

Earlier this year the Riccarton High School board asked for feedback from our school community on the proposed school zone expansion. We received some encouraging and constructive feedback and would like to thank everyone who took the time to respond.

A variety of questions were asked, and it was evident that some serious thought went into the comments. The Board has discussed this feedback and have raised various points with the Ministry of Education. The topics raised can be summarised in seven main questions.

1. Will our school be getting larger?

No not really, we don’t wish to be any bigger. Our roll does fluctuate slightly as it’s not always something we have complete control over. We must accept any student who lives in our zone. Theoretically, if in-zone students filled up all our existing year nine places and then some, we would be forced to grow. But realistically, growth of in-zone enrolment can be balanced by reducing out of zone enrolment, so our roll should be stable for a long time.

2. Will the new zone change the character of our school?

A lot of people like the caring environment and culture that a school of our size fosters. There were concerns that if the school grew, the culture could be diluted. However, given that our size should remain stable over time, the nature of our school should be as well.

3. Does a larger zone mean more resources from the ministry?

We would be delighted to receive more resources from the ministry but since funding is allocated on a per head basis our overall funding isn’t automatically different. The new government is reviewing a lot of things to do with education so maybe things will change. In the meantime, though, we wouldn’t expect that a bigger zone will necessarily get us more funding if we keep our school the same size.

4. How will this affect out of zone enrolment?

In the short term not so much, but in the medium to long term probably a lot. By law students in our zone have automatic right of enrolment. The more in-zone students there are, the less spaces there are available for out of zone students. However, if you live out of zone but have children at our school now or have in the past, then you can be confident that we will have a place for any subsequent children. People most likely to be affected are those who currently live out of zone and do not have a present or previous association with the school.

5. Will anyone already in the zone be left out?

The new map is drawn according to land parcels rather than roads which makes things more precise. This gives the edge of the zone a different look but according to the Ministry of Education produces the same effect as how the zone was previously defined. So, if properties were in zone before, they remain so now.

6. How much say do we really have anyway?

The truth is that our school zone has never been something that we could decide just by ourselves. We have worked with the Ministry and our neighbouring schools and considered how the new zone will best serve our wider communities. We looked for a win/win for all involved and we believe overall the zone expansion is positive.

7. Why did the zone expand into Karamu and not somewhere else?

Much of what was said regarding question 6 applies here too. There are demographics and the interests of other schools to consider. My feeling is that a new subdivision like Karamu represents a new ‘chunk’ of population that is more easily added to our zone than some other areas might be, especially when the interests of other secondary schools are considered.

Going forward the board are happy to proceed with the expanded zone and we are incorporating it into our enrolment plans. The board would like to think everyone for their attention and contributions on this matter.