Saturday, November 27

Big drop in school income last year

The pandemic and the government’s $ 64 million grant scheme combined to cut roughly $ 170 million from local school revenue last year.

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File photo.
Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The figures from the Ministry of Education for 2020 do not include the accounts of 232 schools but, even taking into account this omission, they show significant drops, especially in the amounts collected for trips and school activities and for fundraising.

The numbers indicate that school revenue from sources including foreign students, general donations, and donations for activities and trips fell about 28 percent last year.

Extrapolated to all state schools, that would equate to a drop in revenue for about $ 40 million from foreign students and about $ 130 million for locally raised funds.

That was offset by a $ 20 million bailout for schools that lost income from foreign students and $ 64 million from the government grant scheme, which gives schools in deciles 1-7 $ 150 per student if they stop asking for donations. general and donations for some activities.

The figures showed that schools that were not eligible for the giving scheme, those in deciles 8-10, suffered a drop in donation revenue last year.

Meanwhile, the plan did not completely stop donations to the schools that were in the plan. Eligible schools that reported figures to the ministry obtained $ 29 million in donations last year and $ 52 million in donations for school activities.

Fundraising revenue also fell for both groups of schools.

Mairehau Elementary School Principal John Bangma said his school was on the donation plan.

That meant soliciting donations or voluntary contributions for school activities was not allowed, but Bangma said some parents were still happy to make voluntary payments.

“We made it very, very clear that we weren’t asking, however we said that these are the things that parents can contribute to and we are really impressed with how many parents paid,” he said.

Bangma said the school was still not sure if it was better off on the donation scheme because last year and this year had not been typical years.

The principal of the Oropi school near Tauranga, Andrew King, said that his high-decile school was not eligible for the grant scheme, but that it had still indirectly affected the schools’ income.

“It was a mixed bag. It was a little drop in all those kinds of areas, so in terms of a general donation request and requests for contributions to the camp and what not,” he said.

The donation plan was accompanied by reminders that schools that were not in the plan could not charge for most activities, but could only request voluntary contributions.

King said that made it difficult for families to raise money.

“It was much more difficult to ask families for money and explain why we needed it,” he said.

The principal of Waimea College in Nelson, Scott Haines, said his school received less money from donations and voluntary contributions for activities last year because the pandemic affected the income of some families.

He said rules on fees for school activities also lowered payments.

“All of our big budget lines seem to be falling. Our budget line for international students took an absolute hit last year and that was our main source of discretionary income,” he said.

Haines said last year that the government provided $ 20 million for schools that lost income from foreign students and that the money was not available this year.

“So while last year was a difficult year for us, I hope that 2021 will be a watershed year for schools,” he said.

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