No place for principal’s office at Ormiston Primary

Ormiston Primary School principal Heath McNeal with National Party spokesperson for Education Nicola Willis (right) and National Party candidate for Takanini Rima Nakhle. Times photos Wayne Martin.

Ormiston Primary School roll has been escalating to such an extent that foundation principal Heath McNeil had to give up his cabin and move to the reception area.

In an attempt to ease out the overcrowding of learning spaces, the teachers staff room has been converted to classrooms- leaving teachers in a makeshift staffroom that can fit 20 of its 80 school staff.

Meanwhile, 200 school students have been temporarily moved next-door to Ormiston Junior College due to lack of space.

More students are being taught in the school library.

National Party spokesperson for Education Nicola Willis addresses media.

With an influx of first and second generation families settling in the area, the school is bursting at the seams.

Drawing attention to the plight of the school that has around 967 students in an environment built for 720, the school board of trustees contacted the Ministry of Education for help.

In response, the ministry has agreed to three, double modular classrooms to be fitted by mid-to-late November. An additional two, double prefab classrooms will arrive by February 2021.

“But that is not enough,” says Russell Thomas, chair Board of Trustees at Ormiston Primary.

“We have an intake of 300 students a year and it hasn’t stopped. These modular classrooms will only take care of the 200 who are currently at another building at the Ormiston Junior College. The other modular classrooms will get us half way through to July. What happens after that?”

Addressing a media stand-up with National Party spokesperson for education Nicola Willis, National Party candidate for Botany Christopher Luxon, National’s candidate for Takanini Rima Nakhle (Ormiston Primary falls under the newly formed  Takanini electorate) and Cr Sharon Stewart,  McNeil said the school is looking for a sign-off on a permanent structure – the need of the hour.

“Ideally, it should be a three-storey building with 16 classrooms and an extension of the playground. But we haven’t got any funding as yet. We need to start working on it since it would take at least two years to construct a building.”

Willis, who had flown from Wellington to visit the school, said it’s unacceptable that Government inaction has led to children spilling over into neighbouring schools and being taught in the staff room and library. “National will fix this,” she assured. “This is the kind of shovel-ready project a sensible National Government would be funding instead.

“Why is it that under Labour this school can’t get funding for new classrooms but the Prime Minister is happy to endorse $11.7m for the private Green School?”

“National is committed to fast-tracking work to build new classrooms at Ormiston Primary School to accommodate projected roll growth.

“We can make this commitment because we have set aside an additional $2.8 billion in school infrastructure funding over ten years to get ahead of school roll growth projections across the country.

“Minister Hipkins has failed to react to this emerging crisis, perhaps overwhelmed by his competing portfolio responsibilities.”

Luxon added, “There seems to be a major planning problem in terms of infrastructure. National will prioritise getting this community the infrastructure it needs to grow with confidence.”

Rima Nakhle, National Party candidate for Takanini said, “Ormiston Primary falls in my electorate. As a local, I’ve seen first-hand how fast our community is growing and the pressures it puts on our critical infrastructure, especially education.

“Should I be privileged to serve as Takanini’s MP, this project will be one of my main priorities.”