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It’s a smoke and mirrors Budget

Media Release
29 May 2009

It’s a smoke and mirrors Budget

Pay increases negotiated back in 2007 were re-wrapped as extra money for staffing in a Budget that PPTA president Kate Gainsford says is misleading.

“One of Bill English’s main selling points for education was $169 million for teachers’ pay increases. What he failed to mention was that this is not actually extra money. It is hard-won money from collective agreements settled in 2007 that the government is legally obliged to pay – dressing it up as anything else is simply dishonest,” she said.

In what Gainsford has dubbed the “Smoke and Mirrors Budget” there was very little for teachers and schools that had not already been announced by the previous government.

“There are also clear signals that future belt-tightening will pose a serious threat to frontline staff,” she said.

“The financial cap set by the government for future years will make it almost impossible for business-as-usual to carry on in schools and it appears this will be supplemented by possible cuts to staffing and other vital programmes.

“We are deeply concerned about plans to cut staffing by $50 million in 2011 and hope to be able to discuss the potential impact of this with the government. It will be impossible to achieve this without increasing student/teacher ratios.

“(Education minister) Anne Tolley will find this a very hard sell because teachers, principals and boards will all tell her there is no fat to be trimmed in terms of staffing and that class sizes in schools are already too big,” she said.

“The 2009 Budget offers little in the way of new spending and signals a number of cuts in important areas such as adult community education (ACE), e-learning initiatives and teacher professional development,” she said.

Budget Breakdown

They giveth …

• $169 million for staffing – money won through collective agreements the government is legally required to pay.
• $35 million for private schools already signaled in April.
• An increase in schools operations grant funding in line with inflation – which is standard practice.

And they taketh away …

• $13 million (80%) slashed from ACE (adult community communication).
• $50 million to go from staffing in 2011 (the equivalent of 700 teachers).
• Mission On, EHSAS, E-learning fellowships, Gifted and Talented and Artists in Schools programmes axed.


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