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Little Recognition Of School Boards’ Needs

Media Release

Budget gives little recognition of school boards’ needs

Trustees will be disappointed at the failure of the Government to recognise the increasing pressures on schools operating grants says the New Zealand School Trustees Association.

NZSTA President Chris France say while the budget does provide for a 2.6% increase in the yearly adjustment, or $92 million over a four year period, there will be general disappointment at the small size of the adjustment. The CPI movement for 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2005 is estimated at 2.4%. Boards stand to gain only 0.2% extra.

“Boards are effectively treading water.”

“Boards of trustees have had to absorb significant increases in costs over the past 3-4 years and ironically a significant proportion of this cost pressure has come as a direct result of government decisions in areas where boards wishes are often ignored.”

Chris France says a good example of cost pressures is the consequences of recent support staff settlements, where costs to boards far exceed the small adjustments given to reflect cost of living rises.

“The government claims to be delivering on its commitment to lift educational standards for all young New Zealanders. However trustees and principals will struggle to see the truth in this statement when boards have little option but to reduce support staff hours, or lay off staff, due to the pressure on their operations grant.”

He says boards may well wonder why areas like culture and the arts get additional funding, while some schools struggle to provide basics such as art paper.

Chris France says recognition of new trustee training over a four year period is welcomed, as it will allow a more systematic training strategy that will recognise board turnover, and the importance of the role of governance in student achievement.

“Overall, there is little for boards of primary and secondary schools in this budget. Boards have been vocal in expressing the need for a significant catch up in operations grant funding, and there will be general disappointment that boards’ concerns around the pressures on operational funding have been ignored.”

[ends]

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