17 Nov 2017

'We're going to save money by not charging parents'

From Checkpoint, 5:24 pm on 17 November 2017

A Palmerston North intermediate school plans to save money by not charging parents for sports, stationary and class trips.

Ross Intermediate School principal Wayne Jenkins said the school planned to scrap all its fees next year, but would still have to ask parents to contribute to school camps.

“What we’re proposing is to basically remove that barrier of financial cost to kids being able to access, I guess what you could call the extended curriculum, extracurricular activities, such as sport and the like, so that everybody gets an opportunity to take part and participation will hopefully increase, which in turn will engage kids more in learning.”

The decile six school already provided computers to children whose parents couldn’t afford it, Mr Jenkins told Checkpoint.  

“Basically we’re covering everything but what we’re saying to parents is we’re going to need a hand with camps. Camps are incredibly expensive and to just fund camps for our school would cost over $150,000, so obviously that’s not actually practical, and we find most parents accept that.”

Parents sometimes spent hundreds each year on sports fees and costs associated with extracurricular activities.

“Basically we’re putting just on $40,000 back in our parents’ pockets that historically we would have received… the aim is to hopefully increase participation, so kids who historically maybe haven’t bothered asking mum and dad if they can play cricket,  all of a sudden won’t have that need to say ‘and I need $40 as well’. So hopefully we’ll see participation in sports and activities increase.”

Mr Jenkins said staff were constantly chasing parents for money they owed, and will not have to do that from next year once fees are scrapped. Their responsibilities were being realigned, and no one was losing their jobs. The school would end up saving money in postage, printing and administration time.

“We’re actually spending money to charge parents money, so in the projections we’ve made we’re going to save money by not charging parents. It’s a bit of a paradox, but we’re actually saving money by not collecting money.”

He hoped the new government would soon act on its pledge by Labour to offer schools $150 per child if it didn’t ask parents for donations.

Parents had welcomed the school’s plan, which he said benefited the whole community.

“We don’t want to be ringing you saying you owe us money, we want to be spending our time on educating your kids you send along.”