Principals of religious schools in Northland are not happy they have been excluded from the Government's $400m school investment package with some saying it is discrimination against students in Christian, Catholic and Muslim schools
On Sunday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced a $400 million package for around 2050 state schools across the country which will allocate $700 per student, allowing schools to carry out much needed upgrades.
Depending on the school roll, every school receives a different sum with a maximum of $400,000 and a minimum of $50,000. But state-integrated schools - which teach the New Zealand Curriculum but keep their own special character - won't receive a cent from that funding.
Richard Stanton, principal of Pompallier Catholic College in Whangārei, said excluding integrated schools from the package "discriminates against students in Christian, Catholic and Muslim schools."
"These are the students who are missing out," he said
"They've given this additional funding to one part of the partnership but not the other part and that's what I find annoying."
The Association of Proprietors of Integrated Schools was considering legal action but Stanton hoped it would not have to go that far.
"The Government just has to get back to the idea we've got a partnership running here and it's a partnership that's been running for years," he said.
There has been some confusion over what the school investment package funding would go towards.
Community charged after landlord requests removal of EV station
The announcement from Ardern and Hipkins said it was the biggest capital injection for school maintenance funding in at least 25 years, but the Ministry of Education said the funding is for property upgrades - like creating more collaborative space by modifying the configuration of existing teaching spaces - not property maintenance such as painting, fixing broken equipment or repairing a broken pipe.
David Rogers, principal of Kaikohe Christian School, said state-integrated schools had been "tossed aside".
"What the Government has done is estimated a per-student dollar amount to invest into the network and they have not considered students who are attending integrated schools. By not considering those students they're differentiating between them and other students."
Hipkins said integrated schools, which own their own buildings, would be getting funding of more than $65m next year.
"That's about $730 for property per student to modernise and upgrade their school buildings. On top of that the proprietor can also charge attendance dues," he said.
Attendance dues are compulsory fees charged by state-integrated schools which can go towards certain property-related costs and repaying debts.
Rogers was not aware of the funding Hipkins referred to, but said state-integrated schools struggled to upgrade their spaces.
"It's frustrating. We're doing our best with what we've got and to be honest state-integrated schools manage their property well, but it is a tough ask to expect integrated schools to keep pace with the massive capital injections that are being allocated to state schools," he said
Mereana Anderson, principal of Te Kura o Hato Hohepa Te Kamura - a Māori, Catholic kura in Kaeo, said she was disappointed integrated schools were not included.
"It's a slap across the face really because the benefit to our school would be huge," she said.
A school the size of Te Kura o Hato Hohepa Te Kamura would receive $50,000 in funding. She said even a small amount of those funds would make a difference.
"We have to find the money ourselves for much of the development that we want to do, if we want to do things. So when you see schools moving into open learning environments, you're not part of that change and those opportunities," she said.