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Two years on - Novopay continues to suck money from schools

Two years on - Novopay continues to suck money from schools

22 May 2014

It appears the government has earmarked millions of dollars this year for Novopay remedial work.

Costs associated with payroll services had previously been included in the budget for “Support and Resources for Education Providers”, but in the 2014 Budget, $43.2m has been pulled from that budget to create a dedicated budget line called “Payroll Services”.

This year’s budget also shows that last year $9.2m was diverted from “Support and Resources for Teachers”, plus another $4.348m from other education budget lines to prop up the disastrous payroll system:

$1.025 million from Curriculum Support (p 20 of Supplementary Estimates document)
$1.5 million from the National Study Awards (p 207)
$1.823 million from Primary Education (p 210)
$300,000 from Special Needs Support (p 212)

NZEI Te Riu Roa spokesman Ian Leckie said students and teachers were missing out on resources to support teaching and learning because of a payroll mess that had been going on for two years and appeared to show no signs of improving.

“The ministry needs to fess up and tell us how much of this $43.2m is for normal service charges and how much is for projected cost overruns and fixes. We asked the ministry last week and they haven’t been able to supply an answer,” he said.

Mr Leckie said parents of special needs children would be particularly galled to hear that $300,000 had been scraped out of special needs support to prop up Novopay.

“Special needs education is extremely underfunded and kids are missing out on help that will enable them to succeed at school. Parents and teachers have been calling for more funding. Not only was there nothing for these children in the budget, but the government has quietly siphoned much-needed funds out of the previous budget,” he said.

Meanwhile a report by the Auditor General details the extent of the problems that the school sector faced in completing their 2012/13 audits. It shows that Novopay has caused significant delays in auditing school accounts and caused an extra $1.5 million in auditing costs.

Ian Leckie says he’s not surprised by the auditor general’s report.

“Novopay is continuing to cause ongoing issues for schools and this is diverting attention away from providing kids with education.”

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