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Hard budget decisions loom for primary schools

Hard budget decisions loom for primary schools

21 May 2015

Primary schools will need to make budget cuts, following a 1% increase in their operations grant, which does not keep pace with the growing costs of running a school.

In today’s budget, school operational grants have been increased by $42 million over four years, which will not cover the increasing costs, such as a 3.6 percent rise in electricity charges. Meanwhile, the post-Novopay payroll system will receive an extra $53 million over four years.

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Louise Green said boards would be forced to make budget cuts and the big losers would be the already underpaid support staff who were crucial to student success.

“Teacher aides in particular are poorly paid despite the vital role they play in supporting students. Schools employ teacher aides out of their operations grant, and when money is tight, there is no room for pay rises. Teacher aides with years of experience are frequently paid barely more than minimum wage and are the first to have their hours reduced,” she said.

“New Zealand continues to spend less on primary schools than the OECD average, and pressure on parents for donations and fund raising can only increase as government funding falls further behind actual costs.”

The 1% operations grant increase compares poorly with the 2% increase in 2014, 1.9% in 2013, 2% in 2012 and 2.9% in 2011.

While public schools cope with miserly funding increases, money has been found to establish two more charter schools by 2017 even though hardly any of the current crop of charter schools are even meeting their minimum guaranteed rolls.

“The millions of dollars required for establishment grants and high per-student funding would be much better spent on supporting students in their current schools,” said Ms Green.


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