Kia ora koutou
The funding of schools: Since I last wrote, no progress has been made with regards to teachers’ pay and working conditions. I can understand that some people have a perception of teachers as only working 9 – 3pm and having 12 weeks’ holiday per year. You, of course, know better than that. You know that our teachers work hard during the week, almost always plan for your kids’ next week of learning at the weekends and do considerable work to prepare for a new term during the ‘holidays’. I know that you appreciate what our teachers do and would prefer that our teachers did not work so hard. Many of you have told me this.
However, what I don’t understand is that when Minister Hipkins asked for funding from Treasury for the budget, Treasury didn’t give Minister Hipkins what he wanted because they said there was no evidence to suggest that schools needed more. This is outrageous! Treasury just needs to look at our budget. There is no way in the world that we can run our school and adequately maintain our infrastructure on the funding we receive from government, let alone personalise learning to meet the needs of every student.
The problem is that the extent of the funding problem is probably largely hidden because those working in education carry the burden. All around New Zealand teachers spend their family’s money to fund their classrooms (hopefully this doesn’t happen in our school!). Particularly in small schools, principals mow the lawns, do gardens, maintain the swimming pools, do routine maintenance. In the first two years of our school, it was made clear to us that we were not expected to have the funds for a caretaker. Guess who dealt with blocked toilets and other such things! I am appalled when I think about the things principals and teachers are simply expected to do to keep things running. Further, schools raise funds, develop income streams, and rely on parent donations. And, on top of all that, we are also expected to be top notch leaders of learning – a highly complex undertaking; and always to be growing and developing.
For your information, the following is a brief summary of our budget for 2018 which gives an idea of the shortfall we face every year.
$388,000 less $579,996 = (-$191,996)
However, the above expenditure figures only cover the basics. In fact, the Amesbury School Board of Trustees goes beyond this and has budgeted a further $150,000 for additional staffing to keep the teacher-student ratios down.
This means a shortfall of $341,996 over and above the funding provided by the Ministry.
Let me say that again – we are having to find a further $341,996 this year.
Donations from parents helps to the tune of $40,000 when 80% of families pay. But that still leaves $300,000 to find (or $150,000 if we did not employ additional staffing to reduce the ratios). This means we have to be business-minded when our core business must be teaching and learning.
Thus far, we have been very fortunate to have been able to earn the funds we’ve needed to make up this kind of shortfall. However, many schools do not have the opportunities that we do and it must be very difficult for them to survive. Hence, we find principals and teachers around New Zealand doing all sorts of things that are way outside their job descriptions to save money for the school.
And as a result, Treasury is able to maintain the view that there is no evidence that schools need more funds.