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Minister’s claim on school funding misleading

New Zealand School Trustees Association: Minister’s claim on school funding misleading say School Trustees Organisation

The figure of $12 billion for education funding quoted by Minister Hekia Parata on the Breakfast Show Tuesday morning is misleading, when the discussion was specifically about the compulsory education sector (schools) says Lorraine Kerr, President, New Zealand School Trustees Association.

While total funding for education, which includes Early Childhood Education, compulsory education and tertiary education, is in the order of $12 billion, the amount of that funding that goes into supporting the compulsory education sector is in the order of $6.35 billion, of which the government’s contribution is around. $5.6 billion Ms Kerr says.

``To quote the figure of $12 billion when specifically discussing the costs of students attending primary, area and secondary schools is quite misleading, and gives the impression that the compulsory education sector is generously funded, when advice from our member boards, and the real figures, clearly shows it is not.”
The Government contributions of $5.6 billion (around 88%) towards the total compulsory sector spend of $6.35 billion is made up of three main components: - teachers’ salaries ($3.4 billion) board operations funding ($1.2 billion) and property ($0.65 billion).

Ms Kerr says that in addition to the government’s contribution of approx. $1,200 million ($1.2 billion) in operational funding, boards themselves contribute some $488 million each year from locally raised funds, as well significant contributions from investments/ interest, profits from international students and other revenues, to meet funding shortfalls.

During the interview Minister Hekia Parata said that Boards can make decisions as to the compulsory use and possible funding of ICT such as iPads but without any acknowledgement that, of approximately $240 million per annum already spent on ICT by boards, only about$90 million is actually funded directly or indirectly by the government. Boards Principals, staff and local communities should be congratulated on the way they are meeting the need for twenty-first century equipment from their already stretched operations grant and /or locally raised funds.

We welcome transparency in the sector, and especially so in difficult economic times, as the Government’s investment in the compulsory education sector is significant, Ms Kerr says. But that does place an onus on us all to make sure that we are comparing apples with apples when discussing school funding.

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