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Parents demand to see annual reports from Helensville Primary School

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Parents of children at Helensville Primary School are demanding answers after their Board of Trustees formally refused to provide any of the last three years of annual reports.

One concerned parent who did not wish to be named said, "I’ve always paid school donations before but I’m incredibly uncomfortable blindly giving them my hard-earned cash when they won’t even say how they’ve been spending it. I've decided not to pay them until I know what's really going on."

Regan Cunliffe first asked to see the school's annual reports in November under the Official Information Act.

"It's a wonderful school with amazing teachers. My wife and I have supported the school by donating plenty of our time, skills, and money in the past," Regan said. "But to keep the annual reports secret, including the financial statements, is weird," he added. "We don’t know if our tax dollars and donations are going towards the kids, or into a mysterious black hole. Until we know we can trust these people with our money, they won’t be getting another cent from us."

A parent who attended the last board meeting said, "Finances at the school don't sound good. They were talking about trying to get a $260,000 deficit down for this year which Mrs Heasman (Principal) said was ‘outrageous’. They were also discussing the falling roll and putting up school donations."

Another single mother of two wasn’t impressed by the school donation increase. "The fees were $240 last year, now they're up to $320. It's a big jump. The other local school only asks for $120 if you have two kids," she complained.

The Education Act requires school boards to ensure that their annual report is publicly available online. Regan Cunliffe laid a complaint with the Ministry of Education last year, pointing out that the latest annual report was not on the school website. Other agencies are also aware of the Board's lack of compliance.

The Board has two accountants involved in handling the school finances, Board chair Daniel Makin and parent trustee Peter Edlington. The annual reports that have been refused cover the period of time since Deborah Heasman took over as principal of the school.

The latest annual report is still unavailable on Helensville Primary School's website.

A complaint was filed with the Ombudsman in December.

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