Funding aims to make schools jewels

SHARE

Every pupil deserves a school fit for purpose.

A big proportion of school buildings across the country are old and need upgrading, but in past years they’d had to defer those upgrades to meet other costs, including basic health and safety requirements.

To help meet that challenge, the Government recently announced that next year, almost every state school in New Zealand will receive a one-off cash injection to turbo-charge investments on classroom and facility upgrades.

Each school will receive $693 per student, up to $400,000 for the largest schools. And smaller schools will receive at least $50,000, no matter what size their school roll, because we understand the importance of local schools to all our different communities.

In the Waitaki district alone, $2,252,285 is going to be injected into our local schools. For example, there’s $226,611 going to Fenwick School, $191,268 to Pembroke School, and $52,668 to Oamaru North School. I’m really looking forward to seeing how our schools use this funding to create modern learning environments for our students.

This investment is the biggest capital injection for school maintenance funding in at least 25 years. And it’s just the first project to be announced from the Government’s new infrastructure package, which will help future-proof our economy.

It will create jobs in every community in the country, while helping to make our schools the jewel of the local community they should be. We want every school to engage local tradespeople, so all our schools can be modern, well-equipped places for children to learn, and comfortable centres for communities to gather.

On top of this, there’s more good news for Waitaki schools. As announced earlier in the year, eligible schools from 2020 on will be able to choose to receive a $150 per-student, per-year payment if they agree not to ask parents and caregivers for donations. Although school donations are voluntary, many families can feel under pressure to pay them, tightening household budgets. Of the 17 eligible schools in the Waitaki district, 14 have opted in – that includes more than 2500 pupils, and adds nearly $400,000 of extra funding towards these schools.

We know that fixing our rundown schools after nine years of neglect won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight. But we have a plan, and we’re committed to turning things around. In just two years in government we’ve already invested in upgrading or building at least 1100 classrooms, benefiting 33,000 students around the country. That means tens of thousands of students enjoying better, more modern classrooms to learn in.

For too long, short-term thinking has spoiled our political landscape. I’m proud to be part of a government that’s looking 30 years ahead, not just three. Future generations can’t afford for us not to.

This government is making progress, and we are making a difference. But as Jacinda said when announcing the latest round of new funding: we cannot settle, we have to keep going. And with our shared values and determination, we will. Let’s keep doing this.