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School books awash with $33m worth of red ink

Media Statement
For immediate release
Tuesday, 30 March, 2004

Ogilvy: School books awash with $33m worth of red ink

The debt burden being carried by New Zealand schools jumped 50 percent in the most recent five-year period, to a whopping $33 million, United Future education spokesman Bernie Ogilvy revealed in Parliament today.

"And one shudders to think where this figure will be when this year's set of figures come out on the back of a dramatic fall in foreign students and increases in all costs, notably IT upgrades," Mr Ogilvy said.

"Our education system is disastrously under-funded when four in 10 of our schools are running in the red.

"At that level, there can be no question that the mismanagement is at the political level in terms of funding, and not at the level of school management," he said.

School debt increased from $21 million in 1998 to $33 million in 2002, the last year for which figures are available. The average level of school debt now stands at $32,400. It is also particularly worry that the poor are clearly getting poorer, he said.

"In 1998, just 29 school had debt levels exceeding $100,000. That figure had jumped to 69 schools by 2002, Mr Ogilvy said.

"It's all very well for Education Minister Trevor Mallard to stand in Parliament and grandly state that he always want more money for schools.

"Less of the sweeping theoretical generosity, Minister. Let's just have some dosh on the table so our schools can do what they are there to do, and give a quality education to our children," Mr Ogilvy said.


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