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Ignoring the operations grant funding shortfall

Ignoring the operations grant funding shortfall a risky business - NZSTA

Trustees are expected to vent their anger over the on-going saga of inadequate Government funding to schools at the New Zealand School Trustees Association’s up-coming conference.

President Chris Haines is predicting there will be strong demand from trustees to make the operational grant funding shortfall an election issue.

“Education Minister Trevor Mallard will be addressing delegates, and there is no doubt trustees will be asking him what Labour is planning to do about the immediate operations funding shortfall in schools.

“While to date, very little has been forthcoming from most of the parties on this issue of funding inadequacy, and the Government is no exception, there will be a clear expectation on the part of our member boards that issues of funding inadequacy will be addressed.”

About 650 delegates are expected to attend the conference in Auckland, which has the theme Celebration of Governance – Where all Kids Achieve, and runs from June 30 to July 3.

Chris Haines says there are about 18,000 school trustees in New Zealand who, by the very nature of their role, show they take education issues seriously.

“That means there are about 18,000 voters who can have a big impact in this year’s election. They are extremely interested in what the different parties are proposing to do to redress the inadequacy of operational grant funding.

“There is no doubt trustees, along with their families and friends, want the Government in power to fund schools’ operational grants at an appropriate level. This needs to allow for more than simply paying the bills, but also allow for all educational programmes to be adequately supported, without having to rely on community-sourced funding.”

NZSTA estimates schools nationally will raise, from all sources, close to half a billion dollars this year; he says this is a huge amount when compared to the Government’s contribution to operational grant funding of around $940 million.

“Schools are currently going backwards. To keep good teaching and progress in place, boards of trustees need the operational grant funding stepped up – if that does not happen, student achievement will suffer.”

Chris Haines says the New Zealand Council for Educational Research study, funded by NZSTA, provided clear evidence that schools could not continue to provide students with their current standard of education if they relied on Government funding alone.

“We are not talking about extras here. We are talking about providing students with the basic support they need to achieve.”

Other issues under the spotlight at the conference include: How to combat bullying by making schools more positive places; The challenges facing first time principals – and how boards of trustees can help; How trustees can navigate the minefield of student expulsions and suspensions.

The annual conference is being opened by Auckland Mayor Dick Hubbard, while Minister of Education Trevor Mallard will also address the delegates.


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