School donations could soon be a thing of the past for some families.

Next year, decile one to seven schools can receive $150 per student, per year from the Government, instead of seeking donations from parents.

Around 1,700 schools will be eligible to join the scheme.

Whangarei’s Manaia View School is decile one and would likely opt-in.

Principal Leanne Otene said the funding would “go a long way” at the school.

It had not asked families for a donation for about 12 years.

“It means that every fortnight we are holding a sausage sizzle or a bake sale so that we can provide opportunities for our children.”

She said the school had great support from families, as well as from its teachers.

“We have teachers baking two dozen cupcakes at night for bake sales. They are invested in our children and want to give them these opportunities to participate.”

The school provided subsidies for stationery and sports, and all trips were free.

“Having no donations has never prevented us from providing these opportunities. But that pressure to provide comes at an expense, not just financial but in time and effort.”

She said she “firmly believed” all schools should have been eligible.

“I’ve taught in a variety of deciles in my career and I firmly believe equity in education is one of the most important things. This initiative goes some way in addressing that.”

Whangarei Heads Primary School principal Jodi Edwards said it was “a little bit unfair” that higher deciles missed out. His school is decile eight.

“There are children and families that need support in schools no matter what the decile.”

He said there were families that would have benefitted from the scheme.

“We don’t think of ourselves as disadvantaged out here, but it definitely would have taken a bit of pressure off some of our families.”

He said he was grateful to have supportive families and a strong community.

“Our community is very passionate about the school and offers us great support.”

On the West Coast, Hokitika Primary School principal Shane Baillie said it would make a huge difference.

“At the moment we allow $1000 a year from donations. That’s the most we get.”

Under the new scheme, the school could receive about $20,000.

“That’s dramatically different. We can start at looking at resources for longevity now, not just to get us through to the end of the year.”

The added funding would allow the school to provide more opportunities.

“We have a rock climbing trip coming up that we can’t get enough transport from parents for. With this, we could hire a bus and not have to cancel.”

The financial pressure on families to contribute would also be eased, he said.

“For some parents, they are just scraping by. Just a couple of dollars each week makes a huge difference so this will have a big impact for our whānau.”

Baillie said he did feel for schools that will miss out.

“Relying on the decile system for this, it’s not sharing things equally. It’s not equitable.”

Just 15 minutes down the road from Hokitika, lies the farming communities of Kokatahi and Kowhitirangi.

Kokatahi-Kowhitirangi School Principal Casper Kruger said the funding would have made “a real difference” to the decile eight school.

“It would have been great.”

He said the school didn’t ask for donations from its 50-odd students.

Instead, the school was “very lucky” to have a supportive community.

“We are fortunate we have a very strong home and school organisation that does all the fundraising for us. But this could have eased the pressure on them a bit.”

The school might look at a decile rating review down the track, but it wasn’t on the cards yet.

Otago parent Rachel Owen’s children attend a decile 10 school that asks for about $100 per student as a donation.

“We can afford it and we don’t begrudge it because we know that schools rely on it.”

However, she said relying on the decile system seemed unfair.

“The disadvantaged children should get the advantage, regardless of the decile. There are families in our school that this would have helped immensely.”

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said although donations to schools were voluntary, families could feel pressure to pay them.

“Many students will now be able to get the education they need with less financial pressure on their parents.”

Schools that opt-in would still be able to ask for donations to attend camps and other overnight curriculum trips.

Schools have until November 14 to decide whether or not to opt in to the scheme.

The Ministry of Education would monitor schools that opt in to ensure they did not continue to seek donations from parents.

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