23 Mar 2009

Reports confirm schools underfunded, says association

6:39 pm on 23 March 2009

New reports on school funding back up what school boards have been saying for years - they need more money.

An independent survey of more than 200 schools in New Zealand reveals that most schools would be in the red without the money they raise from parents and groups such as pub charities.

That has alarmed school boards, which say donations and other traditional sources of locally raised funds are now drying up as the recession puts pressure on family incomes.

The reports, released by Education Minister Anne Tolley, follow a review of schools' operational funding by the Ministry of Education and sector groups, as well as the independent survey of schools' finances.

School Trustees Association general manager Ray Newport says the independent report on school finances also vindicates long-running complaints that schools need more money.

The association says the reports confirm that Government funding is inadequate and schools are being propped up by locally-raised funds, including donations from parents.

Mr Newport warns schools are now reporting a reluctance by parents to pay donations and acknowledges it will be tough to get extra money from the Government in the current economic climate.

He says given the situation boards are facing - which is only expected to get worse - the Government needs to make school funding a priority.

Education Minister Anne Tolley told Checkpoint on Monday the Government intends to pull out of what she calls "backroom services" for schools and put more money into frontline services.

Ms Tolley says a line-by-line review of the Ministry of Education will look at current programmes to decide what should be done centrally and what should be put into operations grants.