School infrastructure dating back to the 1950s will be overhauled thanks to a nearly $400m funding injection. Samantha Olley talked to Rotorua schools about what they will do with their slice of the pie.
Rotorua schools sick of "making do" have big plans for millions of dollars in infrastructure funding from the Government.
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.
• More than 1000 school kids exposed to measles at Rotorua camp
• Rotorua school lockdown over
• School holiday guide: Plenty of activity options for Rotorua children and families
• Rotorua principals back calls for expansion of Fruit in Schools initiative
The amount of money each school has been allocated varies from about $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.
Rotorua Lakes High School is one of them.
"This will allow us to get on the front foot with a lot of projects," principal Jon Ward said.
"It is not going to change the face of the school, but within the classrooms, we are hoping to use it for basic things like carpeting."
He said the school did its best to live within its means.
"Every dollar is good."
Western Heights Primary School has been allocated $311,000.
"It will make a massive difference," principal Brent Griffin said.
The school has 20 classrooms, most of which were built in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
"Pretty much the school itself is suffering due to the age of the buildings ... All of the money we put into the school [property] - you can't see the positive effects because it's doing drainage, power, maintenance.
"So you put in all of this money but the environment itself never appears to improve. So I really appreciate the thought that has gone into this."
He said the school never had the funding "to make any major changes"
"So we're in a very fortunate position now."
Griffin said at the start of the year the school's boiler system broke down, and for two months there was no heating.
All but two classrooms now have heat pumps, but Griffin said the school's power system was not capable of running all the pumps at once.
"They have to run on a timer coming on at different times because if they all went on at different times our power would shut down."
He hoped the funding would go to upgrading toilet blocks and providing new cloak bays, as well as a new covered outdoor basketball and netball court area.
Rotorua Intermediate was another school receiving $400,000, something principal Garry de Thierry said was "fantastic".
Having funding to tidy up schools was "really important."
He said the weekend announcement came as a surprise, "but we are thankful for the funds, we will put them to good use".
The school's fluctuating roll was around 700 pupils.
The intermediate is expecting a large intake of Year 7s in two years, based on the current numbers of Year 5s at its feeder schools.
"So hopefully when they arrive they can benefit from some of this funding," de Thierry said.
Post Primary Teachers' Association eastern 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."
She said whole communities would benefit from the infrastructure upgrades, not just students and teachers.
When making the funding announcement on Sunday, 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 10 contractors repair 10 roofs, it would be better to have one contractor do the lot."
National Leader 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 Pāpāmoa 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: