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Inadequate funding is the real issue, says NZSTA

Inadequate funding is the real issue, says NZSTA

Media release

The Government’s failure to provide schools with sufficient funding to operate is the real problem, not the way the funds are delivered, says the New Zealand School Trustees Association.

NZSTA president Chris Haines rejected the primary teachers’ union’s call for a ministerial taskforce to be established to develop a different way of funding support staff in schools.

“The real issue is that the Government needs to fund boards’ operations grants at a level which adequately reflects the real costs of running a school,” says Chris Haines.

Over the past 15 years, school support staff have been funded as part of the operations grants paid directly to boards of trustees. This funding delivery model has provided boards of trustees and principals with the flexibility to run schools in the best interests of the students.

“Under this funding system, support staff have pay rates and other costs which have increased at well above the rate of inflation over the past three to four years,” says Chris Haines.

In the past this method of funding was not an issue for boards of trustees because it was set at an adequate level. However, boards are now facing increased demands on their operations grants, and in some instances support staff costs have been reduced to make ends meet.

Independent research by NZCER confirms that most schools are facing a tighter financial situation and that pressure points on school budgets have increased during 2005. Coupled with growing cost pressures, there is an indication of growing parent resistance to paying donations.

“There is no need to change the system of funding. What we do need is operations grants to be adequately funded in the first place.”

The issue of what costs should be covered by the operations grant is currently being addressed by the Operations Funding Review group. This group was set up last year by the Minister of Education in response to widespread concerns regarding the inadequacy of operations grant funding. NZSTA is part of the review group, along with NZEI and other key stakeholders from the sector.

[ends]

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