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Helenville playground fundraising money considered


A senior playground for Helensville Primary School looks unlikely to eventuate again this year, based on Board chair Daniel Makin’s comments at the last Board meeting.

During a discussion about a $260,000 draft budget deficit at that meeting, the first item addressed was the playground money previously raised by the school community.

“What we do need to take into consideration around some of that is that money that the Home and School, money,” said Principal Deborah Heasman.

Board chair Daniel Makin interrupted, “I don’t think we’ll budget for that because we don’t know, it’s not certain that it will happen, or when it will happen.”

However, parents were told a different story last month by the school’s fundraising group, “It’s been a long time coming, but we are nearly there!”

Fundraising for a replacement playground began in 2015 after the original senior playground was deemed unsafe and demolished.

More than $57,500 was raised by the Home and School Committee primarily for the senior playground prior to 2018. Those funds have been held by the Board.

Last year, the committee became a registered charity and PTA member, was renamed as PATHS (Parents And Teachers at Helensville School), and raised a further $23,500.

“The PATHS team is made up of incredibly selfless people investing their time and energy into its success,” said parent Regan Cunliffe. “They do a great job fundraising for all our kids and I have a lot of respect for them.”

“Why did the Board need to take into consideration the previously-raised playground money during a discussion about a very large proposed school deficit? How tight are the school finances really?” he asked.

A parent who attended the last board meeting said, "Finances at the school don't sound good. They were talking about trying to get a $260,000 deficit down for this year which Mrs Heasman said was ‘outrageous’. They were also discussing the falling roll and putting up school donations."

"It's a wonderful school with amazing teachers. My wife and I have supported the school by donating plenty of our time, skills, and money in the past," Regan Cunliffe said. "But to keep the annual reports secret, including the financial statements, is weird," he added. "We don’t know if our tax dollars and donations are going towards the kids, or into a mysterious black hole. Until we know we can trust these people with our money, they won’t be getting another cent from us."

The Board has not published their annual report online as required by law and has refused to provide their annual reports when requested under the OIA. Complaints have been laid with the Ministry of Education and the Ombudsman.

The Board has two accountants involved in handling the school finances, Board chair Daniel Makin and parent trustee Peter Edlington. The annual reports that have been refused cover the period of time since Deborah Heasman took over as principal of the school.

PATHS meets tonight at the school for their AGM.

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