Dated school infrastructure will be overhauled thanks to a nearly $400m funding injection from the Government. Sandra Conchie and Samantha Olley talked to Western Bay schools about what they will do with their slice of the pie.
Western Bay school principals have big plans for the Government's cash injection of millions of dollars for infrastructure, with one calling it a "windfall".
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unveiled a $400 million infrastructure spending plan on Sunday, benefiting more than 2000 schools across the country - the largest spend on school infrastructure in 25 years.
The amount of money each school has been allocated varies from $50,000 to $400,000 depending on roll sizes and the current condition of infrastructure.
In the Bay of Plenty, 23 schools will receive the $400,000 maximum funding.
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Ardern said almost every school and community in New Zealand would benefit from this windfall investment.
"I'm proud that students and teachers will be the first to benefit from our infrastructure upgrade," she said.
Ōtūmoetai College principal Russell Gordon said the timing of his school's $400,000 "unexpected windfall" from the Government could not have been more perfect.
Gordon said he discussed the college's plans for the next decade with Education Ministry officials at a pre-arranged meeting at the school yesterday."We have a significant re-building programme planned over the next 5-10 years.
"However, there are a lot of things we just couldn't even think about touching as the maintenance and compliance costs are outside of our means.
"Even upgrading two 1980-circa toilets would cost in the region of $100,000," he said.
"However, what we can start to look at is improving our technology areas and improving and brightening up our learning environments for students which is great," Gordon said.
"But we want to make sure we get the best bang for our buck."
Greenpark School principal Gareth Scholes said his school, like many others, had issues finding room for and funding more classrooms to keep pace with rapid roll growth.
"We're very grateful for the $400,000 we getting but we would like $4m to be able to deal with some of the issues on our priority list," he said.
Rangiuru School principal Mike Gullick said he welcomed the $50,000 his school was allocated but he wanted to know more about it could be spent.
"If the $50,000 is on top of our normal five-yearly one-off funding allocation from the Ministry that will be great but I'm a little unsure so I want to clarify that situation.
"I'm a glass-half-full kind of person so I'm grateful to receive this funding and I hoping that is the case but I want to make sure before we decide to spend this money."
He said the last quote he had to paint the whole school was $70,000, "so $50,000 is not going to go far," Gullick said.
Post Primary Teachers' Association Bay of Plenty chairwoman Alex Le Long said the funding was "a welcome injection".
"Our schools haven't had much development for a long time. In a lot of schools, we are just patching up classrooms and making do with what we've got."
She said modernising teaching spaces would make an "amazing difference" for teachers and students alike.
"Our curriculum nowadays is created for cross classes and collaboration. But a lot of our buildings don't allow for 'team teaching'. Our traditional spaces are siloed, there are walls and doors between each classroom. They are not flexible."
Le Long said whole communities would benefit from the infrastructure upgrades, not just students and teachers.
When making the funding announcement on Sunday, Jacinda Ardern said, "I've visited plenty of schools and I'd be hard-pressed to name one that didn't have need."
"You hear horror stories about kids learning in damp, mouldy classrooms."
She also said the spend would be great for local tradespeople – "this is an opportunity for work at a local level in every town and city in the country."
Infrastructure New Zealand chief executive Paul Blair said the work opportunities would be "really positive for the smaller contractors spread across the regions".
He hoped the work would be spread across years, rather than months, "to avoid a boom-bust scenario".
"That would allow time for businesses to take on machinery and apprentices that may be required for some of the work."
He hoped school contracts would be bundled together, for efficiency, so that other infrastructure demands outside of schools could also be met.
"So instead of having ten contractors repair ten roofs, it would be better to have one contractor do the lot."
National Party leader and Tauranga MP Simon Bridges called the announcement "business as usual spun as stimulus".
"It's what every Government has done and been expected to do since Adam and Eve.
"Labour has failed to deliver on infrastructure so [New Zealanders] will be very cynical given all the big talk to date and lack of delivery whether Kiwibuild or light rail and now this."
The Ministry of Education was not able to provide a breakdown of funding by district.
Head of education infrastructure Kim Shannon said, "at this stage, the ministry is focused on consolidating our national response to this initiative".
Bay of Plenty schools receiving $400,000:
Golden Sands School
Lynmore Primary School
Mount Maunganui College
Mount Maunganui Intermediate
Pāpāmoa Primary School
Rotorua Boys' High School
Rotorua Lakes High School
Tahatai Coast School
Te ākau ki Papamoa Primary School
Tauranga Boys' College
Tauranga Girls' College
Te Puke High School
Trident High School
Western Heights High School
Whakatāne High School
- Source: Ministry of Education
How much is being spent nationally?
The total one-off cash injection is $396 million, or about $700 per student.
Who gets it?
Almost every school in New Zealand – some 2050 state schools will get a piece of the $400 million pie, provided they were built before 2015.
What will the money be spent on?
Infrastructure. The Government made the money available for schools to bring forward any projects, such as getting a new roof or new classrooms.
When can schools start spending?
As soon as they're ready to go. If schools have projects they want to start, the Government wants them to start as soon as they can. Schools have two years to spend all the money they are allocated.
Where is this $400 million coming from?
It's likely a lot of it will be coming from borrowing. The Government says since interest rates are so low, now is a good time to borrow money to fund infrastructure spending.
Is there more spending to come?
Yes. The Government has made it very clear it has a pipeline of projects it plans to announce next month.
The full list, and what each school gets: