Ploys to get voluntary school fees 30 Jan 2013
Schools are offering $100 meal vouchers and early payment discounts to encourage parents to pay “voluntary” fees, and threatening public shaming of those who don’t. Despite primary and secondary state education being nominally free, parents contribute more than $100 million a year in fees that cannot be legally enforced. Principals say it is a struggle to keep schools up with 21st century expectations with what funding the Government provides. Total operations grants received by the country’s 2500-plus schools in 2012 was $1.2 billion, excluding tax. A Dominion Post survey of more than 25 schools in the lower North Island yielded an overwhelming consensus that government funding was not enough to provide even the basics, and fell far short of paying for increasingly essential computer technology. That meant that “schools are being forced to ask parents for more and more in the way of ‘donations’ and a lot of parents are struggling to meet these demands”, Labour education spokesman Chris Hipkins said. Ministry of Education figures show $103m was paid in school donations in 2011, compared with $99m in 2010 and 2009, and $75m in 2008. “I’ve seen reports of schools doubling the donations they ask for in recent years,” Hipkins said. “If the Government don’t fund them adequately, they just have no choice.”