Many schools stuck for funds
By LANE NICHOLS - The Dominion Post | Monday, 14 May 2007

Cash-strapped schools fighting rising costs and a growing need to levy parental donations are calling for a big boost in state funding.

Finance Minister Michael Cullen will announce the Government's spending plans for the coming year when he delivers his eighth Budget on Thursday.

Education leaders are demanding meaningful increases to ease acute financial pressures that are forcing schools into deficit and putting children's learning at risk.

An Education Ministry report issued in December found a growing reliance by schools on locally raised funds to cover costs.

Many parents already pay hundreds of dollars in fees.

The report made urgent recommendations to investigate schools' actual running costs, identify core services government expected them to provide and increase computer technology funding.

But Post Primary Teachers' Association president Robin Duff said there had been little progress yet, despite the urgent need.

Though some schools could generate their own income or rely on international student fees, those that could not were hurting.

"It's really quite inadequate. It needs to be dealt with."

Secondary Principals' Association president Peter Gall said colleges needed more money to address pressure points like non-teaching support staff and spiralling technology costs.

"The review pointed out that there's an increasing number of schools going into working capital deficit.

"You've got to look at your whole operation and see where cuts can be made. The net result is learning programmes for students are put in jeopardy."

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