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Schools doing better under Labour-led government

Schools doing better under Labour-led government

Acting Minister of Education Steve Maharey has offered to arrange a briefing on school operational funding and deficits for United Future MP Bernie Ogilvy. Contrary to what Mr Ogilvy claims, the financial position of schools has been improving under the Labour-led government, Steve Maharey said.

"The collective surplus generated by primary schools has increased from 1.1 per cent in 2001 to 1.8 per cent in 2003. The surplus generated by secondary schools in the same period increased from 0.8 per cent to 1.2 per cent," Steve Maharey said.

"Over the past three years the total number of schools operating a deficit in excess of $60,000 has actually decreased from 153 in 2001 down to 137 in 2003. The percentage of secondary schools in deficit went from 43 per cent in 2002 to 39 per cent in 2003," Steve Maharey said.

"School operations grant funding has increased by over 26 per cent since 1999. When adjusted for inflation and roll growth, this amounts to an increase per-pupil in real terms of just over 10 per cent," Steve Maharey said.

"The government has also greatly increased the amount of 'in-kind' support it provides to schools, such as free software licences and laptops for principals and teachers. This in-kind support amounts to $346 million per year - equivalent to 34 per cent additional operational funding.

"There are a myriad of reasons why schools might record a deficit (loss) for the year. It might be planned, for example a Board of Trustees might decide that it has more money in the bank than it needs, so it spends that money on new equipment or on teacher professional development.

"There are instances where schools record significant and/or unplanned deficits. These could be the result of major unforeseen problems like an employment dispute with a teacher or unplanned maintenance on the school boiler. These sorts of deficits are obviously concerning to a school, and in general schools can cover any unplanned costs out of their savings and the school will return to a surplus in the next year.

"Ideally we would like to see all schools operating 'in the black', and encourage all schools to live within their means. That is why the Ministry has a team of specialists who can work with schools to improve their financial performance.

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