By: Jordan Bond

Graham Preston, the founding principal of Bethlehem College and Chapman College, confirmed the school was highly likely to move to an 8ha Pukehangi Rd site, about 4km west of the present location, in the coming years.

This comes after this week’s announcement that Chapman College will officially integrate with Tauranga’s Bethlehem College on January 1, 2018.

Mr Preston said the Pukehangi shift was much more likely to happen now that the Bethlehem partnership was going ahead.

Chapman College, which will be taken over by Bethlehem College next year, will almost certainly move to a new site on Pukehangi Rd. Photo/Ben Fraser

“We can get serious. It is possible … it’ll all be negotiated. There are lots of issues, but that’s the plan,” Mr Preston said.

He said for the move to the new site to be financially viable, the school, which at present is private, must have more than 100 students on its roll. At the moment It has about 120.

But with the Bethlehem integration, the school would move from private to state-integrated, making it more affordable and increasing the likelihood it would retain its roll.

“It’s exciting … we’ve always been stymied by the lack of affordability. The integration [with Bethlehem] lifts that barrier.

“The site will open up all sorts of opportunities. We’ve been struggling in a building that’s cold, with no land to play sport on, so [the new property] will be great.”

Mr Preston said the news this week had left him elated, and said he was “still floating”.

“I’m not a real drinker, but I was tempted to have a champagne. I will do when we sign the documents … it’s been hard work.”

Mr Preston said discussions about the use of the land had started in 2010 with the land owner, Paul Sumner. Further discussions to determine specifics would occur over the coming months and into next year.

The land has already been zoned by Rotorua Lakes Council as future school land.

Source: NZ Herald

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