Decile rise hurts Papamoa school financially

By Jordan Bond

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Golden Sands School principal Melanie Taylor. Photo/file
Golden Sands School principal Melanie Taylor. Photo/file

A school decile review has meant a Bay school is receiving the same amount of money to operate - despite its roll growing by 400 per cent in the last five years.

Golden Sands School has grown from 83 students to 420 since it opened in 2011 but, after its decile was changed from five to nine, the Papamoa school is effectively losing $35,000 in Government funding, its principal said.

A 2014 review of school decile ratings led to almost 800 schools nationwide losing funding after their ratings increased, including 19 in the Bay.

We have never got enough money to do what we try to do - that's very common. We try to get contributions both in time and donations from parents, but our parents are working parents so time is hard to get.
Mel Taylor, principal

The Government allocates schools funding based on decile ratings, which are calculated by factors including the make-up of the roll and the wealth of the school's community. Schools with lower deciles receive more funding.

The bulk of decile funding comes under the banner of Targeted Funding for Educational Achievement (TFEA). Decile one schools receive a maximum of $905.81 per student, while decile 10 schools receive no TFEA funding.

The initial decile five rating was inaccurate, Golden Sands School principal Mel Taylor said, but the decile jump has meant the primary school has increased its annual student donation by $20 a year to cover costs, and regularly applies for funding from external bodies.

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"We have never got enough money to do what we try to do - that's very common. We try to get contributions both in time and donations from parents, but our parents are working parents so time is hard to get," said Ms Taylor. "Just because you've got a high decile school doesn't mean the community is able to contribute; that's an assumption."

Deciles are re-calculated after the census every five years. But, with the 2011 census being delayed by two years after the Christchurch earthquake, schools who felt they were under-funded were doing it tough for a long time, according to the chair of the New Zealand Secondary Principals Council Allan Vester.

"I know a lot of schools would complain they've lost money - the other way of looking at it is schools that have gone down in decile really should have had the additional money earlier. If you were one of these schools, there would be a number of years where you were under-funded according to the real decile," said Mr Vester.

"In the seven years between censuses, you'd get significant social shifts throughout a community."

Mr Vester said funding drops almost never affected the number of teaching staff, but often hit administration staff and extracurricular activities.

Education Minister Hekia Parata has called the decile system complicated and clumsy, and is looking at how school funding can be improved. She said a review is in its very early stages, and any decisions are "still some way off".

- Bay of Plenty Times

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