Overcrowding problems at new combined campus

CROWDED? Efforts to decrease congestion at Shirley Boys' High School and Avonside Girls' High School's new, shared campus are underway.

Overcrowding at the Shirley Boys’ and Avonside Girls’ high school new site is a concern for some.

The schools say the 2200 students who started at the QE II Park site earlier this month are settling in and conversations to deal with issues are ongoing.

However, a post on the People’s Republic of New Brighton Facebook page asking members what their children thought of the school two days after it opened received more than 100 comments.

Some students had told their parents overcrowded buses and narrow hallways had made the move difficult.

AGHS principal Sue Hume and SBHS principal John Laurenson said early challenges were to be expected, but there was nothing to worry about.

“To be perfectly honest with you, on the first few days of school there was congestion and we couldn’t allow that to continue because it would have been a health and safety issue. So, it’s not fabricated and we have to find out a logistical, organisational solution,” said Mr Laurenson.

“Of course, there are always issues with tweaking things and finding out how they work best for everyone, so we’re just working together to make sure the site works best for everyone,” Mrs Hume said.

Some Facebook commenters said these early issues had made the first days at the school difficult.

“My daughter said the hallways are far too narrow and packed full of kids,” said one commenter.

Mr Laurenson said congestion had eased somewhat and meetings to figure out how to deal with it, particularly when students made their way to lunch areas, had already happened.

Options including separating the two schools’ lunch times had been considered.

The same commenter said her daughter had been made to wait more than an hour for a bus after two drove past her too full.

Other commenters said students were struggling to adjust to the shared nature of the campus.

Mrs Hume admitted adjusting had been difficult but said measures had been taken to deal with these issues.

“This is new for us all and we are adjusting to occupying the same site and sharing some facilities. The senior teams from both schools keep in touch with each other as we work together to support the co-location and student access to the shared spaces. There is some pressure at break times on some spaces and we are working together to manage that.”

Environment Canterbury had also added another bus and additional stops to ensure students could get to and from school more comfortably, she said.

Said ECan manager of public transport strategy Edward Wright: “To help ease the crowding on this service, we have added a second school bus to school route 662.”

Other Facebook commenters agreed with Mrs Hume, saying students needed to be patient and allow time for the schools to figure out how they could function best together.

“We are so lucky to have a wonderful new school in the area. Being the newbie always takes time, give it a chance.”