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Government ‘Negligent’ Towards Bulk-Funded School

Bulk funded schools have today revealed that a complete lack of detail from Government about staffing and funding once their fully funded contracts are broken have left them open to legal action from staff and struggling to budget, plan and appoint staff this year.

The extent to which bulk funded schools have been kept in the dark about what they face once bulk funding is abolished was today detailed in a submission from the Association of Bulk Funded Schools to Parliament’s Education and Science Select Committee in Auckland.

ACT Education Spokesman Donna Awatere Huata said it was bad enough that the Government was breaking the contracts that schools had signed up to in good faith but to do so without consultation was totally negligent.

The Association told the Committee that it did not believe that policy statements and public announcements by Labour as part of its election platform constituted adequate consultation and said the consultation process regarding bulk funding had been ‘inordinately rushed’.

Mrs Huata, a leading supporter of bulk funding said schools were now in a frightening position because of the Minister of Education’s indecent haste on the Bill. “It has left them open to the possibility of redundancies, personal grievances and esposed them to fiscal risk. The Government has done nothing to help boards manage the situation,” she said.

“Trevor Mallard’s haste and secrecy has turned these Boards into bad employers who are unable to tell their staff what’s going on or whether they’ll have to take a pay cut or even lose their job when bulk-funding is abolished. He has left schools unable to plan even their programmes, budgets and staff appointments for this year,” she said.

“In a double whammy individual Trustees will also become liable under the Government’s Employment Relations Bill. There are 27,000 New Zealanders on Boards who will find themselves in the gun,” she said.

Mrs Huata said all evidence presented to the Committee from schools that had chosen to adopt bulk funding confirmed that it was enabling the needs of children to be better met because schools could hire specialist teachers and initiate programmes targetted to meet the needs of individual students.

“Schools fear that not only will these programmes go when they are forced back to centralised funding, they will also lose staffing entitlements and the important ability to pay teachers above award rates to reward high performance and attract and retain quality staff,” said Donna Awatere Huata.

ENDS

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