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School Funding To Go On The Election Agenda

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The people who manage school budgets say the adequacy of funding of schools must be up for debate during the election campaign.

President of the New Zealand School Trustees Association Lorraine Kerr says parents all over New Zealand will be interested to hear how many cake stalls and galas they are going to have to run to support their kids achieving at school.

She says last year schools fund-raised $560 million for their schools, with a significant amount coming direct from the parent community. In addition, boards have funded over three thousand teachers out of their own pockets.

"We want to know how each political party plans to support our schools which continue to struggle to make ends meet through an inadequate operations grant."

Lorraine Kerr says boards of trustees are currently finding it difficult to meet competing demands on their funding.

"As more and more money is being sucked out of the operations grant that makes up the bulk of schools' funding, the nuts and bolts of education in the classroom is under threat, and in many cases is being sustained through a reliance on locally raised funds.

"We are obliged by law to focus on student achievement - and as parents it is obviously the most important role of all.

"But how can we continue to do this when we are hindered by continuing funding constraints?"

Lorraine Kerr says a review of the operations grant funding has been going on for three years, with no real results. Meanwhile boards and principals are being asked to do more with less, are increasingly reliant on locally raised funds, and parents are sick of waiting for some relief from constant demands for more money.

She says new research shows that for many teachers and boards of trustees, funding is their biggest worry.

"Our challenge to all political parties is to give boards of trustees, principals and parents in New Zealand some certainty about adequacy of operational funding so our children can learn to the highest level."

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