More than 90 per cent of schools in the Whanganui region have signed up to the Government's donations scheme.
For the most part its good news, as families will no longer feel the pressure to make "voluntary" donations and schools will no longer need to request them.
There have been some reservations, however, and principals say schools have needed to look carefully at their budgets.
Local schools, in the decile 1 to 7 range, will be paid an average of $32,000 each year from a national fund of almost $62.5 million, which amounts to $150 per student per year.
Carlton School principal Gaye O'Connor had reservations about opting into the scheme because school camps cost about $250 per student.
"That would have blown our budget straight away," she said.
"The camps for Year 5 and 6 students have always been a rite of passage, but we have decided not to have them any more.
"Instead, we will provide more day trips for all students.
"The board of trustees have completed the budget for next year and we have some great things planned." READ MORE:
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O'Connor said the decision to opt into the scheme was cemented by a drop-off in donations from parents.
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"Only 27 per cent of parents donated this year and in previous years it's been up around 80 per cent.
"I hope the Government will be flexible and review the scheme if it proves to be inadequate."
Although schools that have opted in to the scheme are still entitled to ask families for donations towards the costs of camps and overnight trips, they are not obliged to pay and children cannot be excluded if their families do not contribute.
O'Connor said, given the cost of accommodation and transport, the financial burden on the school was too great.
"The board cannot be expected to make up the cost difference if there are not enough donations."
Whanganui Girls College acting principal Nita Pond shares the concerns.
"Opting in is the right thing to do because education is supposed to be free in New Zealand, but $150 per student is not a huge amount," Pond said.
"Our heads of department have had a lot of discussions about things we currently ask parents to help pay for and worked out where we can reduce costs."
Pond said there would be fewer overnight and out-of-town trips for students but there would be some quality day trips within the region.
"I am glad that we don't have an extensive outdoor education programme because those activities incur high travel and accommodation costs."
next year as their schools had signed up to the donations scheme.
"I'm really pleased that this scheme is going to give 1563 schools guaranteed extra funding next year and that those communities won't be under pressure to pay donations.
"We know how difficult it can be for parents to afford the donations that schools request. Our scheme will take significant financial pressure off many Kiwi families.
"It's a win for schools and families. Students will get to enjoy the benefits of the additional funding without families feeling under pressure to find the money within their own household budget."
Hipkins said the donations scheme was an annual opt-in process, which meant schools that had chosen not to opt in initially might do so in a subsequent year.
"We know that every community is different and I'm pleased that we've been able to recognise that by giving decile 1-7 schools the opportunity to decide on the best funding option for themselves and for their communities this year and in future years."
Ministry of Education financial advisers will be available to support schools while they embed the donations policy.
"The donations scheme is part of the Government's plan to make education more affordable for students and families," Hipkins said.
Although decile 8 to 10 schools are not currently eligible to opt in to the donations scheme, Hipkins has said the Government is open to extending the scheme to those schools in the future, subject to Budget decisions.
If your school or kura opts in to the Government's donations scheme:
• The board of trustees cannot ask you to make a donation unless it is for an overnight school or kura camp – and then you can choose if you want to pay none, some or all of the donation. If you choose not to make a donation, your child cannot be stopped from attending a camp if it is part of the school's core learning programme (curriculum).
• You cannot be asked to make either a general or specific donation; for example, a donation for a day trip to a museum or a field trip to a hiking track.
• See more at education.govt.nz