19 December 2006
Time to get more money into classrooms
Government reports may show that public schools are managing their finances well, but that doesn’t mean they have enough money, PPTA general secretary Kevin Bunker said today.
Mr Bunker welcomed the government’s commitment to taking a serious look at operations funding. He acknowledged that it was a difficult issue and that further work would be required to pinpoint resourcing to the areas most in need.
However, once the technical issues were sorted, the bottom line was that schools needed more money. “We will be looking for evidence of that commitment to resolving the problems in next year’s Budget.
“The trend over the past decade has been for more and more schools to go into deficit. For many of them, one financial shock – such as a sudden decline in foreign fee paying students – could be enough to put them beyond the brink.”
“The ERO report shows that two thirds of schools in financial difficulty are actually managing their money soundly, while the Minister’s release indicates that schools are managing their funding well. If that is so, and we believe it is, then the steadily increasing number of schools facing financial difficulties is the clearest indication yet of the need for more government funds. ‘
“Though the government has increased funding, the extra costs imposed on schools through NCEA, compliance, support staff and ICT are still outstripping real funding increases.
“Schools are being forced to raise funds through the increasingly precarious foreign fee paying market and/or pass on the costs to parents through activity fees and school donations.”
Mr Bunker said it was inaccurate to say that locally raised funds had increased in line with operations funding as the historical trend was for schools to raise a higher proportion of their funds locally.
He said cash shortages meant schools could not adequately resource the curriculum, or finance ICT, support staff and building improvements, placing pressure on teaching and learning.
“If we really want to maximise the effectiveness of our schools, we need them not just to be managing funding effectively, but to be managing adequate government funding effectively.”
“The cost of fully funding the government’s requirements and expectations on schools will be high but we would expect to see a commitment to addressing the weaknesses in funding identified in the current report and through the work streams that will examine the problems during 2007.”