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Collins Comments: 8 July 2005

Collins Comments
Judith Collins Clevedon MP
8 July 2005

Labour's arrogance and disdain for mainstream New Zealand has shown itself in its changes to policy for school bus routes Until now, schools have been able to take bulk funding for school buses and plan their own bus routes. Many of these schools get significant numbers of pupils from outside their local area because parents are able to choose the best school for their children using the flexible bus routes.

Upset at the thought of parents exercising any choice on behalf of their own children, Education Minister, Trevor Mallard, has decided to change the system.

The new policy makes two major changes. It creates a new formula to calculate the funding schools get for their bus runs. Many schools will lose and some win. We don't get the individual figures so you need to check with the schools.

The main change is that schools will have to run their buses according to the same rules on Ministry runs. They will not be able to run a bus past the mid point of the distance to the nearest school nor will they be allowed to pick up children who are within 3.2 km of their school. These changes will make a real mess of these bus runs.

The document is a consultation document, but the Ministry of Education has made it clear it will not be changing the policy - without a change of government.

Kawakawa Bay children are being hit hard in our electorate. After 50 years of Kawakawa Bay pupils attending Clevedon School, they have been told that the funded bus will not go all the way to Kawakawa Bay. The Minister of Education has been particularly pigheaded, despite the information I have given him about the savings to the taxpayer to fund the bus route compared to the cost of building more classrooms at another very small school.

National's view

* the policy reduces parental choice for thousands of families

* schools lose control of their bus runs when they went into the system to get control

* there was no need to make the change

* schools lose flexibility and parents lose their choice

If the parents of this electorate want some reasonable choice for their children's education I would urge them to make their views known.

ENDS

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