The Government has upped its offer to teachers to $1.4 billion. Reporter Zoe Hunter talks to Bay of Plenty education leaders and finds that while some see plenty of reason to celebrate, they also say the deal doesn't properly recognise the contributions of other educators. The announcement even had one local principal in tears.
The head of a Bay of Plenty school is considering stepping down, saying the Government's new offer to teachers would see the deputy paid more than the principal.
On Friday Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced a new $1.4 billion offer for teachers. The New Zealand Education Institute union has recommended members accept the offer, and the decision will go to a vote.
Bay of Plenty school leaders say the new offer is a win for primary school teachers, but the offer for primary school principals was largely unchanged from that offered in March.
The news left one principal - who spoke on the condition of anonymity - in tears.
"At the moment my deputy principal is earning more than me, thousands more. With the latest offer that escalates that even more," the principal said.
"It is not their fault. They are worth every single dollar and more.
"But it has got me thinking I could leave my job and walk into a deputy role and be paid more than I am with less of the responsibility."
"I didn't come into teaching to be rich. But there comes a time when you have to feel appreciated and right now I feel undervalued and deflated."
"It is the system that is flawed."
Ellen MacGregor-Reid, the Ministry of Education's deputy secretary of early learning and student support, said the lowest possible salary for a primary principal would rise to $99,257 by July 1, 2021.
The maximum base salary a teacher with both a teaching qualification and a subject degree could earn would rise to $90,000 by July 1, 2021.
"So even in the smallest school there is a gap between the base salary rate for teachers and the remuneration for the principal."
She said schools had flexible funding that they could use to pay assistant and deputy principals more, but that was up to the schools.
The new offer included a one-off gross payment of $1500 for principals who are New Zealand Education Institute members only and a three-month delay in passing on new conditions to non-union members.
But the base scale increase of 3 per cent for all primary school principals remained the same as the March offer.
Hipkins said the Government aimed to restore pay parity for primary and secondary school teachers.
The offer is worth $271 million more than the $1.2 billion package offered in March and will include an increase to the base salary for all current teachers by at least 18.5 per cent - or $14,500 - by July 2021.
It will also include eight extra teacher-only days over three years and a new top step of $90,000 to help attract and retain teachers.
Both Western Bay of Plenty Principals' Association president Matthew Skilton and Pillans Point School principal Matt Simeon said the offer was positive for teachers but had little change for principals.
"One principal cried when she found out her deputy would be earning $10,000 than her deputy," Skilton said.
"To me, that is an unusual way of showing respect and wanting schools to be lead by the best ... It is just not good enough."
However, Skilton fully supported the positive result for teachers. "It is an offer that teachers should take very seriously."
Simeon said people needed to know a principal was a valued position.
"There needs to be a significant difference between what our teachers can offer and the role of a principal as the CEO of a school and the community.
"That hasn't been recognised in this offer."
Greerton Village School principal Anne Mackintosh said the new offer was great for teachers but feared the difference between a deputy principal and principal would be "very narrow".
"[There is] no incentive to becoming a principal, nothing for workload and health and wellbeing of principals," she said.
New Zealand Education Institute Tauranga branch lobbyist Andrea Andresen said first impressions of the revised offer were very good.
"I am very pleased to see our experienced teachers who trained with a diploma being able to access more salary steps," she said.
Lynmore Primary School principal Lorraine Taylor said it was the best offer teachers had had.
However, Taylor said the offer fell short on release time for primary school teachers, special-needs coordinators and additional support for students with additional needs.
Rotorua Boys' High School principal Chris Grinter said it was good to see the Government's offer come closer to meet the demands of teachers.
But he said there were still workload issues which needed to be addressed and hoped they would come outside the formal negotiations.
Teachers have cancelled the regional rolling strike action that was planned from June 17 and NZEI members will vote on the latest proposals on Wednesday.
A Ministry of Education spokeswoman said the ministry needed more time to look into the specifics of the rural teacher's case before it gave a response, and could not do that before the deadline given.