Schools forced to get creative to meet shortfall

By Julia Proverbs

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Western Bay schools are finding increasingly innovative ways to raise money - from fashion shows and art auctions to pig hunts and cow pats.

Teachers and parents told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend Government funding was not enough and they were being forced to use their entrepreneurial skills to meet the shortfall.

Mount Maunganui Primary School PTA last month hosted a fashion show with fashion boutique Sisters, raising more than $5000.

PTA chairwoman Coraleigh Parker said it was one of several events planned for 2013 to raise more than $30,000 throughout the year.

A quiz night, raffle and corporate golf day would bring in the balance.

"It is a lot and we are getting quite a lot of PTA fatigue," she said.

"It's hard to keep up the momentum."

The money would go towards technology and upgrading the junior playground.

"At the end of the day, our kids could still go to school and learn to read and write and spell and do maths but what we provide them with is the quality of life," she said.

While Mount Maunganui Primary turned to high fashion, Omokoroa No1 School went high octane.

Its major fundraiser is Ride On Mower Day, with a profit of $37,000.

Principal Chris Broadhurst said the idea came from a parent nine years ago, with the inaugural event attracting 12 contestants on basic mowers with blades still attached.

There is now a New Zealand Lawn Mower Riding Association and events are held throughout New Zealand, with the grand final hosted at Omokoroa.

"Every mower is modified now and some go up to 80km/h," Mr Broadhurst said.

The school's community raised about $50,000 a year, of which half was spent on special education.

This year, the balance would be spent on a hot water bore for the swimming pool.

The $300,000 pool, finished at the beginning of the year, was funded entirely by donations and grants.

"Definitely we have to fundraise a lot more than we used to," Mr Broadhurst said.

"The Ministry of Education doesn't give us enough money."

Bethlehem Primary School literally has a "cash cow". It raises more than $7000 through a "cow dump gala" whereby a field is divided into grids and punters wait for Cameo the cow to deliver.

Pongakawa School received a Ministry of Education grant of $638,000 towards a new action centre, but had to raise the balance of the money for the $2million project.

By selling naming rights for seats and wall plaques, it raised $80,000.

But principal Craig Haggo said it was unusual for the school to seek support from its community on such a scale.

"It's something we don't do very often. The last time was in the late '90s when we built a 25m swimming pool," he said.

The PTA runs a quiz and charity auction annually that raises $20,000 and an agricultural day that raises around $5000.

"The school's known for only going to businesses once each year," Mr Haggo said.

Schools in the Te Puke area were mindful that their major fundraisers did not compete with one another, he added.

Otamarakau had a fishing competition, Fairhaven a fireworks gala, Maketu a lip-synch competition, Te Ranga a possum and pig hunt and Paengaroa School held a Top School event.

Mr Haggo said it was getting "harder and harder" to make ends meet.

"I think the reality is that, yes, we do need more," he said.

Technology and special education were two areas that required more funding than the ministry provided.

"Schools have to either compromise or become innovative and seek visionary ways to find extra funding," Mr Haggo said.

At Tauranga Intermediate the onus is on staff to seek additional funding.

The school's PTA is not a fundraising body but an information-sharing group focused on student achievement and wellbeing, principal Brian Diver said.

"All our staff are expected to be entrepreneurial," he said.

"Our poor staff. They are meant to be teaching reading, writing and maths as well as the pressure from me to raise funds to support their programmes. It's not a fair go. It's meant to be a free state education system. It's not."

The school's main fundraiser for the year was the 12-Hour Relay that raised around $50,000 for Ngamuwahine Outdoor Education Lodge.

A portion of funds also went to a nominated charity each year.

Meanwhile, Otumoetai College is looking for a fresh, new idea after putting its Bookarama - one of its two main annual fundraising events - on hold.

PTA chairwoman Toni de Rijk said competition from other organisations holding similar events had resulted in declining profits.

Two years ago, the Bookarama raised about $18,000 but last year it was closer to $10,000.

"It's getting less and less financially worthwhile. It's really time consuming and we don't have the manpower to do it any more. It was falling on to a small army of people who were exhausted," she said.

"We've got to come up with something really interesting to make it attractive to people."

But for some schools where the community does not have the money to give, fundraising is not an option.

Merivale School, a decile one school, does not hold any major fundraising events.

"It's very limited", said principal Jan Tinetti.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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