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Trustees say funding review is urgent

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Trustees say funding review is urgent

School trustees will be keen to see a review of operational grant funding but it must be untaken as a matter of urgency, says the New Zealand School Trustees Association.

NZSTA President Chris Haines was responding to the Minister of Education’s speech at the NZSTA conference in which he confirmed that a review of operational grant funding will be undertaken.

“We are also pleased that the Minister has confirmed that NZSTA will be fully involved in the review process. This, together with the need for the review group to be led by an impartial chairperson, is especially important if boards of trustees are to have confidence in the eventual outcomes.”

He says boards of trustees have been expressing concern for several years that they are finding it increasingly difficult to deliver the core education requirements required by government on government funding alone.

“Increasingly, boards of trustees are having to use other non government funding sources to meet shortfalls. We are being short-changed in areas that should be fully funded by the government to meet the “Free Education” requirements of the Education Act.

“We can argue until the cows come home about whether funds from non government sources can or should include trading activity income or foreign fee paying student income. However, the bottom line for boards is that, whatever we choose to call it, money other than that provided by the government is increasingly having to be used to support “core” education delivery.”

Chris Haines says school communities have supported their schools through donations, paying activities charges, supporting fund raising ventures and school trading activities for many years, and no doubt will continue to do so.

“However they do so in the expectation that this support will provide their children with the nice to have extras that makes schooling exciting, and more interesting for students, and certainly not to “prop up” the government’s contribution.”

He says there is no doubt that the education sector has benefited from a significant injection of funding over the past six years or so.

“However, much of the funding is absorbed into wage increases for teaching staff and in additional staffing. The fact remains that schools also need sufficient direct government funding to simply be able to meet the costs of running the school, let alone the need to be able to deliver the quality education that the government expects, and that ERO reviews.”

The review of adequacy must proceed as quickly as possible, says Chris Haines, as the budget did not deliver the significant increase in operational grant funding that boards expected.

“There is now considerable frustration amongst NZSTA members, especially when the increase was 2.4% and the projected CPI Inflation rate is expected to be 2.8% .”

Chris Haines says in addition to the government review of adequacy of operational grant funding, NZSTA expects to have initial data from the second year of the longitudinal NZCER study on school finances available before the election.

“This research will again be useful in providing a look at the funding issue, and how boards are coping.”

ENDS

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