Westport schools lose thousands as decile ratings request denied

By Lee Scanlon

Westport North is one of four schools in the area to lose funding. Photo / File
Westport North is one of four schools in the area to lose funding. Photo / File

Four Westport schools will lose thousands of dollars of yearly funding after again failing to convince the Ministry of Education to overturn their decile ratings.

Westport North, South, St Canice's and Buller High School twice challenged their decile rating of 5. They found out yesterday the second review, like the first, had failed.

Each primary school loses between $15,000 and $25,000 a year and the high school loses $37,000.

St Canice's principal Peter Knowles said all four principals were disappointed with the ministry's decision. The only option for schools was to apply again next July.

"We'll have to go through the whole process again but we'll keep doing it because we need to," said Knowles.

The schools, their staff and board of trustees would continue to provide the best opportunities, learning and support possible for their children, he said.

In the latest review, the schools had given the ministry the most up-to-date information on their families. However, the information didn't reflect how financial situations had changed as a result of Buller's economic downturn.

"It's the types of questions they ask. Nowhere does it ask [about] actual financial remuneration."

School deciles aim to reflect the socio-economic status of the school's families. The lower the decile, the more funding schools receive.

All Westport schools moved up in a 2014 nationwide decile review.

The three primary schools moved from decile four to decile five while Buller High School moved from three to five.

The schools requested a review arguing that the deciles were based on the 2013 Census, which didn't accurately show Westport's current economic situation.

After a first unsuccessful review the schools won a temporary reprieve which kept funding from dropping. The reprieve expired on March 1 this year.

The schools subsequently applied for, and were granted, a second review.

Knowles said today that the ministry's decision might help mayor Garry Howard's talks with Education Minister Hekia Parata tomorrow.

Howard is to have a brief discussion with Parata before she flies out of Westport after visiting West Coast Communities of Learning (COL) further south.

Knowles, who is the lead principal of the Buller COL, said Buller schools had not been invited to meet with the minister.

Her trip was organised months ago to visit the West Coast COLs which were set up well before Buller's, he said.

She was intending to visit the Buller COL in the new year.

- Westport News

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