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School operational funding increases %18.5

11 March 2005
Media Statement

School operational funding increases 18.5 per cent in real terms per student under Labour

School operational funding increased by $288million dollars or 18.5 per cent in real terms per student between 1999 and 2004, says Associate Education Minister David Benson-Pope.

This consists of a 13.3 per cent increase in real terms to school's general operational fund, and another $111million extra that schools receive in direct Government funding for things like information technology, software licences, and staff professional development, that schools would have otherwise had to find the money for out of their operational fund.

Mr Benson-Pope, responding to the School Trustees Association (NZSTA) which is campaigning for further increases to their operational funding, says he welcomes debate about the resourcing of schools, but the public needed to be informed about what schools are actually receiving.

Education spending on schools has increased by around one third under Labour, rising by almost $1billion in the past five years from $3.5billion in 1999 to just under $4.5billion in 2004, not including Government spending on property.

"Operational funding makes up about one-fifth of the total the Government spends on schools each year," said Mr Benson-Pope. "In addition the Government spends $2.7billion paying teacher salaries, a further $357million funding special education, and contributes $370million to school property.

"The Government's commitment to schools has been real, substantial and continuous after a decade of under-funding by National. We have addressed the teacher shortage crisis that we faced on coming to office five years ago adding some 2670 extra teacher places, over and above those required to match roll growth."

Mr Benson-Pope says the NZSTA president Chris Haines also continues to imply that parents are providing nearly half a billion dollars to schools, when the actual figure in parental donations, which are voluntary, is less than a quarter of this amount.

That's because the NZSTA campaign uses a global figure supplied by the Ministry of Education called "Locally Raised Funds". However, this catch-all phrase is made up of revenue from things like foreign fee paying students, school's trading enterprises, student project fees, and corporate donations, as well as the donations provided by parents. Mr Benson-Pope says Mr Haines has conceded this point in discussions.

"I acknowledge parents make a valuable contribution where they can," said Mr Benson-Pope. "I think it is impossible to stop schools asking for, and parents giving, money for schools."

However, in total, parental contributions and donations amount to a figure equivalent to about 6 percent of total Government funding for schools, which has remained constant over the past five years.

ENDS

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