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Minister must support Wanaka students

It’s time for the Education Minister Chris Hipkins to take the transport needs of Wanaka school students seriously and provide the on-going capacity that’s required, Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean says.

“Extra capacity was recently added to the Luggate bus service for Wanaka Primary School, but this is only a short term fix to an on-going problem that also requires further attention.

“While the extra capacity will allow younger passengers to access a seat in the meantime, increasing school rolls in Wanaka could mean the buses are full again by the end of the year.

“Wanaka School Board Chairman, Andrew Howard, has battled hard for his school community to improve student safety on school buses.

“However, the problem won’t be solved if the Minister doesn’t do anything to continue to respond to Wanaka’s needs and fund enough school buses to meet student numbers and avoid having young people standing in the aisles.

“Wanaka Primary School began this year with 675 pupils, but numbers are expected to grow to at least 750 by the end of term four.

“This rapid rise reflects how quickly the population of the resort town has grown, with Wanaka Primary School’s roll growing 83 per cent since 2011.

“A new primary school is being built to meet demand in the Upper Clutha, but I would suggest it’s time for the Minister to take the transport needs of Wanaka students seriously and acknowledge that the region is experiencing significant growth.

“I have written to Minister Hipkins regarding school bus transport in Wanaka and am yet to receive a response after eight weeks. The Minister must front up and support the safety and educational needs of students in Wanaka.”

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