Bud­get cuts threaten CCO

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By LAURA WAL­TERS

The coun­cil-con­trolled ed­u­ca­tion or­gan­i­sa­tion Comet Auck­land is fac­ing a 43 per cent bud­get cut, which could threaten the group’s ex­is­tence.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion works as an ad­vo­cacy group and aims to drive sys­tems change to make ed­u­ca­tion and skills more ef­fec­tive and eq­ui­table across Auck­land.

Comet is fac­ing a 43 per cent cut to its an­nual bud­get un­der Auck­land Coun­cil’s pro­posed Long Term Plan, which would trans­late to $260,000 less a year.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion cur­rently re­ceives $580,000 in coun­cil fund­ing each year and em­ploys 5.4 peo­ple.

Comet is al­ready one of the lean­est coun­cil-con­trolled or­gan­i­sa­tions, chief ex­ec­u­tive Su­san War­ren says.

‘‘We know coun­cil needs to make cuts, but the level of cut that has been pro­posed for Comet Auck­land would se­verely limit our abil­ity to ful­fil our role, and longer term, it could threaten our ex­is­tence al­to­gether.’’

The group is cur­rently lead­ing work on youth em­ploy­a­bil­ity and Maori lan­guage re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion, which the coun­cil has iden­ti­fied as key fo­cus ar­eas for the city’s eco­nomic and so­cial growth, War­ren says.

This work would be un­der threat if the group’s bud­get was re­duced, she says.

War­ren will not say whether a bud­get cut would re­sult in job losses but it is a pos­si­bil­ity as the group’s largest cost is wages.

Comet says about 20 per cent of chil­dren and young peo­ple fail in the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

About 36 per cent of Auck­land chil­dren are be­hind in read­ing at the end of their first year of school, War­ren says.

Al­most a quar­ter are be­hind when they start sec­ondary school and about 20 per cent drop out of school be­fore the age of 16.

There are 24,200 young Auck­lan­ders not in ed­u­ca­tion, em­ploy­ment or train­ing, and in the past the coun­cil has said it is a bar­rier to eco­nomic devel­op­ment.

They rep­re­sent 11.4 per cent of the na­tional work­ing age pop­u­la­tion.

‘‘Our fo­cus is im­prov­ing ed­u­ca­tion out­comes for the 1 in 5 young peo­ple who are not cur­rently well-served by our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, and now we are ask­ing for some sup­port too,’’ War­ren says.

Comet Auck­land has made a sub­mis­sion to the coun­cil against the bud­get cut.

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