Budget 2019

Almost two-thirds of families with school-aged children will no longer have to pay school "donations" from next year, if schools take up a long-signalled Government offer.

School principals are welcoming the Government's offer to pay $150 a year for every child to all schools in deciles 1 to 7 that agree to stop asking for parental donations.

"Principals in deciles 1 to 7 will be delighted," said Principals' Federation president Whetu Cormick.

But rank-and-file teachers are unhappy. Clare Tiafariu, a teacher at decile 4 Fruitvale School in New Lynn, said the $75 million a year that has been earmarked for the initiative could have been better spent on improving teachers' pay and conditions.

Advertisement

"They need to be spending more money on education and sorting out the crisis, but those issues don't seem to have been addressed," she said.

The Budget does not include any money for lifting teachers' salaries because any increases are still subject to negotiations with the teacher unions.

The Labour Party promised before the last election to pay $150 for every student to schools that scrapped donations across all deciles.

However, high-decile schools were never likely to take up the offer because they typically collect more than $150 a year from parents. Donations averaged $187 per student across all schools in 2016.

Clare Tiafariu is a junior teacher at Fruitvale School, a decile 4 school in New Lynn. Photo / Supplied
Clare Tiafariu is a junior teacher at Fruitvale School, a decile 4 school in New Lynn. Photo / Supplied

A Herald survey at the end of 2017 found that 70 per cent of schools planned to accept the $150 in lieu of donations. Although some mid- and low-decile schools asked parents for more than $150, many actually collected much less.

"My school charges $40, but we only get a third of our families paying it," said Cormick. His school, Bathgate Park School in Dunedin, is decile 3.

The $75m a year allocated to replacing donations represents about 7 per cent of current operational funding for deciles 1 to 7. For many schools in the lowest deciles which don't ask parents for any donations, the initiative will lift their income by the full 7 per cent.

The Budget also includes:

Advertisement

• A $1.2 billion building programme over 10 years including three new schools which have yet to be announced.

• An extra $14m a year for three years to train teachers on better ways to teach Māori children, and $7m a year for training on teaching Pasifika children.

• An extra $98m a year from January for learning support, including funds for 600 learning support coordinators, coping with growing demand for the ongoing resourcing scheme (ORS) and more spending on alternative education, early intervention and the intensive wraparound service.

• Funding nurses in all decile-5 secondary schools, as well as in the existing deciles 1 to 4.

• Increasing school operational grants, early childhood and tertiary tuition subsidies by 1.8 per cent from next January.

• $3.5m to develop resources for a "school-leaver's toolkit" including financial literacy and "civics", but no money for schools to pay for driving lessons or driver's licences for their students.

• $1m a year for a "Creatives in Schools" programme in which "professional artists and creative practitioners will partner with schools to share specialist artistic knowledge and creative practice with students".