Funding switch welcomed
A CHANGE in government funding is set to help ease mounting tensions caused by packed inner-city classrooms.
Education Minister Hekia Parata has announced that schools who have out-of-zone children attending selected special programmes may now be entitled to roll growth funding.
Generally schools do not attract property roll growth funding for out-of-zone children.
The announcement is a huge relief for schools such as Richmond Road School, which offers popular French, Samoan and Maori language programmes.
The school is bursting at the seams as it attracts students from wider Auckland who cannot find similar programmes in their own neighbourhoods.
On top of this, it has been dealing with intense population growth affecting the region, principal Stephanie Anich says.
‘‘Across the school probably 45 per cent would be out-of-zone children.
‘‘So there was no wriggle room at all really,’’ Ms Anich says.
‘‘We had just come to the crunch of no new building spaces, no money to build, no policy that would trap that building money,’’ she says.
Ms Anich says the squeeze created understandable tension between in-zone and out-of-zone families.
But the policy change means eligible schools will now be able to attract funding to build new classrooms, Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye says. She says she fought for the policy changes as they are likely to benefit several schools in her electorate – Richmond Road School, Freemans Bay School, Newton Central School, Westmere School and Western Springs College.
But Ms Kaye stresses that she stepped out of the decision-making as associate minister of education to avoid any conflict of interest.
‘‘Probably what made me passionate about this is that these guys are providing some of the best bilingual programmes in the country and I just felt we had to change the system, because it was a disincentive for these amazing programmes to continue.’’
Chairman for the Inner City Principals Group Bill Barker says they are grateful for the support offered by the minister to implement these long-awaited changes.
‘‘It is fantastic news,’’ Mr Barker says.
‘‘This means boards no longer have to subsidise special programmes for property out of their operational funding.’’
In her announcement Ms Parata noted that Auckland and Christchurch have been mostly affected by high demand for special programmes and will be the first to benefit from the new funding rules.
‘‘Demand for special programmes will continue to grow over time, particularly in the ethnically diverse areas of Auckland,’’ Ms Parata says.
Students eligible for entry into the special programme who live in the home zone will still be given priority.
Mo’ money: MP for Central Auckland Nikki Kaye and Richmond Road School principal Stephanie Anich discuss how funding changes could benefit the school.