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Charter Schools, Education, GERM (Global Education Reform Movement), Government Policy, New Zealand, Parata (Hekia), Partnership Schools, Privatisation of state schools, School Funding

$1.6 Million for portacabins and portaloos in a paddock? The charter school farce continues.

Hekia Parata, Catherine Isaac and John Banks continually assure Kiwis that charter schools will offer something innovative and provide students with an excellent, modern, almost-mystically-good education.

And yet what’s this?

sold sign - fieldTracey Martin MP claimes that one of the first five charter schools has spent $1.6 MILLION of the taxpayers’ money that it’s received so far on …. a big field.  A paddock.  Some land.

Not some land with a building on.

Not even an old fashioned school.

Just land.

And Ms Martin says the school has no money left for buildings.

So where will the students receive the promised world class, top notch, supernaturally-good charter school education? They are planning to use portcabins, says Martin.

Yes, you heard that right – portacabins.

Tracey Martin caught Hekia off guard at Question Time today when she asked whether the Minister was aware that Te Kura Hourua ke Whangaruru, a bilingual secondary school for years 9-13 in Whangaruru, Northland run by the Nga Parirau Matauranga Trust has used its funds this way.

Hekia was clearly flustered, as well she might be, and couldn’t give an answer.

It’s well worth watching it for yourself (from 3 minutes onwards, in particular):

The Trust has said Martin’s information is wrong and that its toilets are brand new, permanent ablution blocks.  The spokesperson didn’t expand much on the ‘property’ part, so we will have to wait for more revelations and clarity there.

But in any case, we do know that the Trust now owns 81 hectares of land.  It is theirs.  Paid for with your tax dollars.

Partnership School Funding Mysteries

The document “Funding for Partnership Schools” states:

The funding model for Partnership Schools is intended to give sponsors  flexibility to manage their resources; provide a broadly similar level of funding to that for schools and students in the state system; be transparent; and allow the Crown to manage fiscal risk.

I would argue whilst the funding model seems to have certainly fulfilled the former of those missions, it could well be failing miserably on the latter.

It goes on to say:

It is assumed that many Partnership Schools will rent premises. The schools  may be established in remodelled commercial or other premises, or possibly in existing educational buildings such as a closed state school or by a private school converting to a Partnership School.”

No mention of portacabins…

Anyhoo, back to the question about funds…

I’ve had no luck tracking down anything that says that partnership schools will have to return land, buildings, funds or any other assets should they close down at any point.  And as partnership schools are private businesses, I can’t demand that information under the Official Information Act.

So, along with Tracey Martin, I am non the wiser.

If anyone has any information on this or knows how I can apply for it, do tell, either in the comments, by message on the Facebook page, or by email.

Misplaced trust funds trust

Whatever the case with this particular school, I do wonder whether the government is nevertheless guilty of grossly misplaced trust in deciding that:

funding will be non-tagged to give [partnership school] sponsors flexibility to make investment decisions that support the achievement of the contracted outcomes.

Tracey Martin MP does a sterling job of trying to get the Minister to admit that charter (or partnership) schools are not bound to return or refund any funds they receive should they never open, shut down or fold in any way.  She tries repeatedly, in fact,  but the Minister refuses to give a straight answer on that contractual point.

Why not?

Why not indeed.

Well I for one can’t wait to see what come out in the wash with this one…


Sources and further reading:

About Save Our Schools NZ

"One needs to be slow to form convictions, but once formed they must be defended against the heaviest odds." Gandhi


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