Take fee complaints to schools parents told

The Dominion Post 19 January 2008

The Government is advising angry parents who are charged too much in voluntary school fees to complain to principals and school boards. But principals say the Government should admit that schools are underfunded and that the free education system is only subsidised. Education Minister Chris Carter said schools could raise funds for “extras”, such as sports trips or camps, but were adequately covered for core activities such as delivering the curriculum.

“If any parent has concerns about the level of donation they are asked to make, I would advise them to approach a member of the board of trustees or the principal.” Asked what an appropriate parental donation was, a spokesman said it was up to schools to set fees. Rates would depend on school projects and “what parents think is a fair contribution”. Mr Carter’s comments have sparked fears that more parents will refuse to pay fees this year, undermining schools’ financial viability. Though state school funding rose to $5.6 billion last year, schools raised more than $500 million from community sources to stay afloat.