Christchurch schools may cut support staff

9:36 pm on 6 October 2011

Hundreds of support staff at Christchurch schools could be laid off because of cuts to operational grants.

Some 3500 pupils have left the city following the Canterbury earthquakes, meaning funding cuts of up to 20% for schools in some of the worst-affected areas.

The Government has already announced that 167 teachers will need to be cut from schools where rolls have dropped.

The primary school teachers union, NZEI, believes twice that number of support staff could also go as schools struggle to make do with dramatically reduced operational grants from which support staff salaries are paid.

Support workers make up one-third of staff at most schools and include caretakers, office staff and teacher aides.

The NZEI and the Principals Association want the Government to leave operational grants at their current level for next year so that schools have a chance to get back on their feet following the earthquakes.

NZEI president Ian Leckie says the Government is providing millions of dollars to rebuild Christchurch's buildings and roads and should do the same for schools.

The Canterbury Primary Principals' Association president acknowledges funding will have to be reduced to take account of reduced rolls, but would like to see this done gradually instead of in one hit.

John Bangma says rolls could end up declining even further if residents in orange zones are declared to be in part of the red zone and asked to move out.

Education Minister Anne Tolley insists no funding is being cut and that money is instead being redistributed to the schools that are taking on pupils who have left the city.