Fee plea for school ball
THE school ball can be one of most memorable moments in a teenager’s life.
But it could also be an extra-expensive time for Mt Albert Grammar School pupils if they haven’t paid their voluntary donation.
The ball will be held in July and the $75 tickets will cost an extra $20 for families who are yet to front up with the optional school fee.
Principal Dale Burden says he’s fed up with parents not paying the annual charge of $230, or $305 for two or more children.
And he will continue to charge extra unless parents start forking out.
“Donations make up 40 percent of the school’s funding,” he says.
“To receive an education that adds value, we’ve got to be funded.
“So we’ll be doing this more and more.”
He says about 70 percent of the decile 7 school’s 2340 students pay the annual donation.
And he doesn’t think fi- nancial hardship is a valid excuse.
“It works out to be about $5 a week,” he says.
“It’s not poor people who don’t pay – it’s got nothing to do with poverty.”
But a group of senior students disagree.
The group, who wish to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals, have formed the Mt Albert Grammar School students’ society.
“Our headmaster is making it harder for students whose families have not paid the school donation to go to their sixth and seventh form ball,” it says.
“Some families can’t afford to pay.
“It is a privilege that seniors have earned and this is our first step towards shutting down this unfairness.”
Mr Burden adds these prices won’t cover the actual costs of the social event.
But he invites any families who are facing genuine hardship to discuss the matter with him personally.
“My door is always open,” he says. “Especially for students.”
New Zealand’s association of secondary principals’ vicepresident Paul Daley says most principals would agree that the operational grant provided by the Education Ministry is inadequate.
“Most schools are finding it more and more difficult to balance their budgets which places a higher demand on them to source income from their community,” he says.
Education Ministry guidelines state schools may ask parents or caregivers for donations, which are voluntary contributions to the running of the school.
It says schools can charge for particular items, activities or events that are optional in the delivery of the curriculum, provided the school has explicit acceptance of the charges by parents.
A spokeswoman for Education Minister Anne Tolley says the minister is keeping a close eye on the issue and while schools cannot force parents to pay donations, the contributions helped provide a wider range of experiences for pupils.