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Budget no surprise say school trustees

18 May 2006

Budget no surprise say school trustees

The New Zealand School Trustees Association has described today’s budget as very much steady as you go.

President Chris Haines says there were no expectations of major change and NZSTA was not disappointed.

“NZSTA views it as a holding pattern budget for our schools because of the major review on school funding that is currently being carried out.”

The Ministry of Education is undertaking a review of schools’ operations grants which is due to report on October 31.

Chris Haines says there is a high expectation among boards of trustees that the review will alleviate pressures on schools’ funding. The Government needs to boost funding to a level which adequately reflects the real costs of running a school.

“Recent independent research has shown that schools are slipping further and further behind because the funding no longer reflects the demands on schools.”

He says the announcement today of what NZSTA sees as an interim funding increase of 3% to stay ahead of inflation, will be a help when it is introduced in 2007. However, inflation is not the only cost pressure on schools.

“The education sector expects that the review will find that the operations grant does not meet the fundamental needs of schools today. Schools are very different than they were when the grant was established 17 years ago.”

Chris Haines says increased demands on the funding such as increased numbers of support staff and changes in technology must be adequately addressed.

He says NZSTA is pleased to see the government commitment to additional staffing in schools delivered in the Budget as foreshadowed.

“But we note that the irony is that additional staffing itself creates renewed pressure on schools’ operations grants because of the need for additional support/administrative structures, including support staff.”

Also introduced in the Budget was an initiative to introduce 12 learning support network co-ordinators.

“Boards of trustees will welcome this initiative which will provide regional special education help,” says Chris Haines. “We look forward to discussions about how they can be used to best effect.”

ENDS

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