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Labour’s school cash squeeze forces court case

Hon Bill English
National Party Education Spokesman
1 April 2005

Labour’s school cash squeeze forces court case

Labour’s squeeze on school cash has forced one secondary school into the drastic measure of taking court action against a parent, says National’s Education spokesman, Bill English.

Otumoetai College in Tauranga is taking parent Ian Mason to court over non-payment of school fees.

Mr Mason’s invoices show that a range of fees has been levied by Otumoetai College over the past three years.

“Mr Mason and Otümoetai College are victims of Labour’s cash squeeze on schools,” says Mr English.

In 2002, the latest year for which figures are available, Otumoetai College raised $1.7 million in funds locally. This was more than the value of the operations grants they received from the Ministry of Education.

“While funding for low-value tertiary education courses like radio sing a-long and twilight golf has exploded, and funding for Wellington bureaucrats has increased sharply, operational funding for schools has been squeezed. Parents now pay at least $200 million per year on fees and donations.

“Otumoetai College gets less funding from the Government because it is a
decile 8 school so it has to collect significant parent donations just to stay afloat.

“In 2003, nearby Tauranga Boys College, with a smaller roll, collected $800,000 more from the Ministry of Education in operations funding than Otumoetai because it has a lower decile rating.” Other secondary schools in the Tauranga area are also highly dependant on locally raised funds. (see attachment)

Mr English says National will reduce funding for education bureaucracy and redirect the cash to schools.

“Parents don’t expect to be taken to court over fees for state schools. Now that state schools rely on fees from parents, Labour must make the rules clear so parents like Ian Mason know what to expect.”

Ends

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