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Millions Paid By Taxpayers Sign of Things To Come

2 November 2012
Immediate Release

Millions Paid By Taxpayers To Bail Out Wanganui Collegiate A Sign Of Things To Come With Failing Charter Schools, NZEI says

The Government’s decision today to integrate Wanganui Collegiate into the state school network - costing taxpayers at least $3.8 million - is a warning about the potential costs of charter schools, NZEI Te Riu Roa says.

NZEI National Secretary Paul Goulter says the Government’s proposed charter schools are effectively taxpayer-funded private schools. They can be run for profit and will have fixed-term contracts, setting out financial and student achievement targets, with the Government.

The Government has argued that charter schools’ fixed-term contracts will make them more accountable because if they fail they will simply be taken over by the State, or closed down. However, the Government has failed to release information about the risks and costs this may bring to the taxpayer. Under legislation currently before Parliament, the Government will allow charter schools to be exempt from the Official Information Act, so the true costs may never be known.

Paul Goulter says the Minister has described the process at Wanganui Collegiate as a “difficult and drawn out” one, but has omitted to detail the costs to the taxpayer already. Public documents and Official Information Act requests show the Government allocated $3 million allocated in Budget 2012, on top of $800,000 which had already been paid to keep the school afloat. The school has also been receiving $554,740 annually via the private school per pupil subsidy. Paul Goulter says the Minister should make clear what the total cost of Wanganui Collegiate to the public purse would be, and should be equally transparent about charter schools costs in future.


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