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Govt's botched handling of charters continues

Govt's botched handling of charters continues

“Revelations that the Government's utu against charter schools may cost taxpayers $20 million show how badly Chris Hipkins has handled them," says ACT Leader David Seymour, who was responsible for charter schools as Under-Secretary in the previous Government.

"The schools were contracted to deliver a service, with compensation for reasonable costs if those contracts were terminated early. The 16 contracted schools can each claim up to $1 million in compensation for committed costs, while the six schools that were contracted last year received a total of $3.4 million in start-up costs.

“This Government knows it costs to break contracts. The Speech from the Throne said all existing contracts to build new irrigation infrastructure would be honoured.

“They were not prepared to risk breaking those contracts, but somehow concrete culverts deserve more consideration than a child’s education.

“Instead of honouring the contracts, the Minister of Education has made hostile, prejudiced statements against the schools right from the get-go. He has suppressed the Martin Jenkins final report on the schools performance to date. He has given the schools a close-or-be-closed ultimatum with little certainty over their future.

“National Education Spokesperson Nikki Kaye has oversimplified saying it is costing the taxpayer $20 million to change a name. Charter school operators would be more than happy to continue operating if the change was in name only.

“In practice, conversion to Special Character Schools status will mean:

No control over funding. Instead of cashed-up funding, the schools will be beholden to the Ministry of Education and its funding formulas;

No management autonomy. Despite the schools being praised for innovative management structures, they will be forced into one-size-fits-all model;

No control over contracts. They will have to use the union contracts preferred by Labour's backers.

“If only it was only a name change!

“It is little wonder that 60 per cent of voters believe the Government has handled the charter school issue badly”, says Mr Seymour.


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