Schools that scrap parent donations to get $150 per student from the Government will still be able to ask for donations for school camps and other items – as long as they were voluntary.
The Herald has obtained a consultation document outlining the proposed guidelines for the policy, which will apply to all decile 1 to 7 schools and was announced in Budget 2019 at a cost of $265.6 million over four years.
Many schools, as well as primary teachers’ union NZEI, have said that opting in to the scheme would see them worse off, and school boards will be torn over whether to turn down the extra Government cash.
Michael Williams, principal of decile 7 Pakuranga College, told a parliamentary select committee last month his school would be $300,000 out of pocket if he axed parent donations.
Under questioning from educators last week, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said schools that opted in to the scheme would still be able to ask for donations for school camps.
“The rules around the criteria for accepting the $150 haven’t yet been completed, we are in the process of developing that. But I can confirm that school camps will be exempt from that,” Hipkins said.
But the consultation document proposes that those schools could only ask for donations for camps that were voluntary.
“If the camp is optional, not part of curriculum delivery and held over the weekend, parents can be charged for the costs of the camp regardless of whether the board has opted in to the scheme,” the document says about examples of where donations could still be sought.
Boards that took up the Government’s offer could also still ask parents for donations for:
• Voluntarily purchasing goods and services such as uniforms or stationery items from the school.
• Photocopying costs for personal, non-curricular use.
• Costs of voluntary extra-curricular activities such as ski trips, or voluntary tuition such as weekend music lessons or sports activities.
• Lunches or canteen purchases.
Failure to follow the rules would lead to the Ministry of Education taking back its $150-per-student money, maybe in the form of cutting into the school’s future grants.
National’s education spokeswoman Nikki Kaye said the document showed how complicated the policy was.
“The bill is under a truncated select committee timeline, and principals and boards were given less than a week to provide feedback on draft guidance for schools around the donations scheme.
“This is unreasonable given the complexities, definition issues and the impact on schools as to whether they choose to take up this offer.”
Submissions on the bill to enact the change closed on June 16, and submissions on the draft guidelines closed early this month.
Boards have until November 14 to take up the offer, and are expected to be paid on the first working day of January 2020, with funding based on the school’s July 1 2019 roll return.