Money that the Ministry of Education is spending on sending Moerewa students out of town for school could have been invested locally, says the family of two of the teenagers.
The ministry closed the senior unit at Moerewa school last term, saying students were not getting quality education at NCEA level.
But Ron Poti, whose grandsons were in the senior unit, says the ministry is now paying for uniforms, travel costs, and extra tuition for students enrolled elsewhere - as well as the cost of a commissioner after it sacked Moerewa's board of trustees.
He says that money could have employed two teachers and raised the achievement levels of the Moerewa senior class, avoiding the disruption and stress caused by the unit's closure.
"You pay one guy an enormous amount of money that could have paid for at least two teachers ... this senior school thing would have been successful," Mr Poti says.
His two grandsons have enrolled in trade-training courses, nine other Moerewa students have gone to Bay of Islands College and six have opted to take NCEA courses by correspondence.