Some people may assume all principals do is sit in their office, speak at assemblies and yell at naughty children. However, while they may spend hours in their office, that time is spent managing the school finances, property, policies, procedures, legislation, community issues, wellbeing issues ... and yes, naughty children. The list goes on. Next week, primary school principals will vote on whether to accept the Government's latest collective agreement offer... But is it all about pay? Cira Olivier reports.
Primary and intermediate school principals across the country will be able to discuss and vote on a new collective agreement offer next week.
The new offer, that was announced on Friday, would see a pay parity with secondary principals.
It comes over a month after principals rejected a $64 million pay offer because it was proportionately less than a $1.5 billion offer accepted by teachers.
This offer provides most principals with a cumulative pay increase of about 11 per cent, along with professional development fund and additional support staff for smaller schools.
However, before the Friday's announcement, some Rotorua principals told the Rotorua Daily Post they feared for the future of education.
Former Rotokawa School principal Briar Stewart left her role as principal last December as she felt the school was in a good place and wanted to pass on the torch.
She worked in a small school, where the principal did everything from finances to property management to managing student behaviour.
One thing she has noticed since leaving is the time she now has.
"On a Sunday, it's my day. I can have a round of golf and go out for lunch and don't have to rush home to do some work," she said.
Rotorua principals firmly reject Government offer
Bay of Plenty principals concerned for leadership future
'We need help' - principals plea for counsellors to be funded
Being a principal required a "vast amount of knowledge" she said, which was called on daily.
"A lot of your own family things . . . my own grandchildren and children and husband, they got pushed down the list, sadly," she said.
"Your expectation as a principal is that you will respond to whatever happens at whatever time."
Stewart is now a leadership adviser for Evaluations Associates Ltd and mostly supports new principals across the Bay of Plenty.
She said working 40-hour weeks was a significant change; she used to never work less than 60 hours a week.
Rotorua Principals' Association president and Mokoia Intermediate principal Rawiri Wihapi said it was a collective stance of all principals to support smaller schools.
He said principals of smaller schools would be the worst affected by the previous pay scale proposed, as it would mean they would be paid less than a deputy principal at a bigger school.
"Principals aren't going to want to be principals . . . they know they can go to another school and be a DP, earn more money and do less work," he said.
"This will only serve to deepen the challenges with recruiting and retaining skilled and experienced principals," Wihapi said.
It was no easy job and Wihapi said mental health and wellbeing of principals was a constant concern.
He had seen principals after they retired and was surprised at how different some looked
"When you see them again they do look refreshed and revived."
Despite being happy with his job and salary, Mamaku School principal Gary Veysi says the bigger picture of education is at stake.
On any day, Veysi could be dealing with a child with behavioural issues or a child struggling mentally; both issues had increased dramatically in 10 years.
But there were still finances, policies, procedures, employment - to name a few - which were under his watch and still needed doing.
Veysi likened principals and their wellbeing to a tank with a constantly dripping tap.
"The tap's dripping and you don't think too much of it but if it's dripping all the time, it wears you down and that's from a lot of stress in the role."
If it came to it, he would leave his role and Veysi said he could get work as a reliever, working decent hours, with less stress and pressure.
Something all principals agreed on was that the role had changed and the pressure was increasing.
All principals spoken to by the Rotorua Daily Post talked of their love of seeing how their efforts resulted in a school running well and the impact it had on the children.
Ministry of Education deputy secretary Ellen MacGregor-Reid said principals' salaries were calculated according to roll size, which "has always been the case".
"This means that, in some cases, a principal in our smallest schools may be paid less than a teacher with leadership responsibilities in a larger school."
She said retention of primary principals remained high, at more than 94 per cent for the past 10 years.
The ministry had been in talks with the primary principals' union again this week to discuss how an offer might be adjusted to best meet the members' needs.
This was alongside an accord that will address workload and wellbeing.
What was rejected by principals:
A minimum salary of $87,734 to $102,898 after three years.
A minimum salary of $118,863 to $132,376 in three years.
A minimum salary of $134,428 to $149,458 over three years.
The key components of the new offer are:
• Pay parity with secondary principals across the roll, staffing and decile components of remuneration, with this being entrenched through a unified pay system.
• A 3 per cent per annum pay increase for three years on the roll and staffing components of remuneration.
• A one-off $1500 (before tax) payment to NZEI Te Riu Roa members.
• An annual $300,000 professional development fund for primary principals.
• Additional support staff small schools to ensure there are at least two staff members in every school during the school day, from 28 January 2020.
The Ministry of Education has proposed a settlement date of 26 August if members vote to accept the offer.