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Figures don’t say why schools run bigger deficits?

Ogilvy: Mallard figures don’t say why schools run bigger deficits?

Figures released by Education Minister Trevor Mallard still fail to answer why the total combined deficit incurred by schools doubled from $14 million to $29 million in the past eight years, United Future’s Bernie Ogilvy says.

“Last week the Acting Minister Steve Maharey confirmed my calculation of the combined deficits was correct, but could not say why it has increased so markedly.

“Mr Mallard, purportedly out to show why it’s all meant to be going swimmingly, still fails to answer that basic question with his figures,” Mr Ogilvy, United Future’s education spokesman, said.

Although the number of schools in deficit has decreased from 43 percent in 2002 to 39 percent in 2003, the average deficit of secondary schools, for example, have increased by 70 percent from $55,624 in 1995 to $94,631 in 2003.

Mr Mallard has produced data showing schools receiving sufficient funding, yet the School Trustees Association argue that his figures don’t recognise the contribution that fundraising by boards of trustees make to the full picture of a school’s financial health. They estimate that this will total a whopping $480 million in 2004.

“New Zealand children are being denied their right to a free education.

“It’s a bit rich for Mr Mallard to refer to the strength of schools’ net worth, when this incorporates assets that schools are in no position to liquidate or mortgage against assets should they need additional funds,” Mr Ogilvy said.

Media reports over the last week indicate that schools are not going into deficit to pay for luxuries - they are only interested in providing a quality education. Nationwide, schools employ 3797 teachers off their own bat, yet teaching staff are supposed to be funded directly by the Government.

“If schools did not take on foreign fee-paying students, many more schools would be reporting funding deficits. As it is, they have to ask local parents for ever-increasing donations to help cover basic costs.

“The deficit figures I’ve provided are too significant to ignore. Mr Mallard’s own figures show that 42 out of 62 schools with deficits of $100,000 plus are secondary schools, a figure which has doubled from 21 to 42 since 1995.

“Given Mr Mallard’s confidence in his figures, presumably he’s comfortable with the fact that they show that three of the top five highest deficit schools (all over $300,000) are in his electorate.”

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