In last month's Budget the Government announced an offer to pay $150 a year for every child in decile 1 to 7 schools, if they agreed to stop asking for parental donations. Decile 8 to 10 schools, including many in the Bay of Plenty, say that's not fair. Samantha Olley reports.
High decile schools across the Bay of Plenty have called the Government's proposed donation changes "a real kick in the guts" and "a massive slap in the face".
They're among dozens of decile 8 to 10 schools across the country criticising the Education (School Donations) Amendment Bill in submissions to Parliament's Education and Workforce Select Committee this month.
Pyes Pā School principal Blake Carlin "feels strongly" about the issue, and helped compile his decile 8 school's submission.
It said the Government's offer should have applied to all schools because many of its families "are struggling financially, [and] are not getting a fair deal".
The school wrote that in its semi-rural community, there were "students living on whānau land without hot water ... in an uninsulated workers' hut".
The school said its Board of Trustees was running a deficit budget and using savings to pay for teacher aide support, despite hard work put into fundraising.
"Obviously this is unsustainable long-term. There's no money for extras and quite frankly this latest piece of news is a real kick in the guts."
Kaharoa School principal Warwick Moyle also made a submission saying he was unconvinced the school's decile 10 status was accurate.
"Rotorua does not have any rich suburbs. Our decile 10 status does not equate to Remuera."
He suggested a sliding scale of government contributions: "$150, (decile 1-3), $100 (decile 4-7) and $50 (decile 8-10)."
Moyle told the Rotorua Daily Post the school asked for $200 donations but a lot of parents couldn't afford that.
"We are certainly getting more children with high needs so we don't push it."
Oropi School's submission said additional funding for decile 1 to 7 schools was great news but "it is a massive slap in the face for many decile 8 to 10 [schools]".
It said the school currently received $10,000 from donations annually, but would get about $48,000 if it was part of the Government's offer.
The decile 9 school said the Bill had "the potential to create a new inequity".
"We have a growing number of renters in our community, parents on minimum wage, parents on benefits, and domestic issues that have been brought to my attention ... We have established a hardship fund at our school over recent years to ensure we can have all children participating in all activities."
It said the decile system needed reviewing before funding was reallocated.
Omokoroa Point School's submission said its changing demographic was hard enough for the district council to keep up with, let alone the Ministry of Education's decile ratings.
"A number of our recently arriving families do not own property, they rent and they are struggling to make ends meet.
"We issue food packages, supplement trip fees, sports team fees and stationery costs for a number of families who cannot afford these. We rely on local church donations and grants for funding and we are decile 9Q."
The school said it also ran a deficit budget.
Pillans Point School's submission said it was being short-changed about $50,000 a year by the Bill, which was "just wrong".
"We have families who struggle due to their mortgage pressure and don't pay [donations] ... We have multiple whānau who share the same house to be able to afford to live in a house."
Otumoetai Intermediate School is covered by the Government's funding offer because it is decile 7.
Its submission said it was "important for schools to be fully aware of any conditions attached".
"If the grant comes with other tags like providing free stationery, paying for school camps, then schools are likely to stay with the status quo."
It recommended that grants replacing school donations should not come with extra conditions.
A report on the committee's submissions is due on August 19, before the Bill's second reading in Parliament.