8 Jun 2015

'Difficult' decile change for Northland school

6:40 am on 8 June 2015

A Northland secondary school says it stands to lose $47,000 from its budget if it is not allowed to retain its low-decile rating.

Bay of Islands College was a decile one school until a recalculation was made last year. The school is now decile two, based on the 2013 census.

The lower the decile rating, the more funding a school receives. That rating is based on census results, taking into account the socio-economic factors.

Bay of Islands College has 373 students, 85 percent of whom are Māori. It is one of 160 that has asked the Ministry of Education for a review of its decile rating.

Principal John Paitai said he had not seen a change in the area to warrant a decile upgrade.

"I don't see any improvement in the real estate around here that represents a move from a decile one to a two, so we are still waiting for the results from that [a review], because that is going to have a significant impact on what we are able to deliver."

Mr Paitai said the school had been unjustifiably moved up a decile, because there were three affluent communities sitting in amongst its catchment area.

"We have Opua, Paihia and Russell whose families don't traditionally come to Bay of Islands College, they send them off to boarding schools and other places, but the rest of our communities are at the lower end of the socio-economic scale and families are really struggling.

"If we want to offer things, we have to front up with the money ourselves [or] fundraise. Certainly when it gets taken away from us unnecessarily, that makes it more difficult."

Mr Paitai said the Ministry of Education needed to be more accurate in the assessment of whether a school was a decile one or a decile two.

"I have invited them (MoE) to drive around Moerewa and Kawakawa and tell me where has the real estate changed here in these towns.

"They and some of our outlying areas are some of the poorest in Northland."

The Ministry of Education said decisions on school decile reviews will be out over the next week.

It said out of 2406 schools, about seven percent asked for a review and, as a result, 85 are moving to a lower decile rating and the other 75 have had their rating confirmed.

The ministry said about $8 million in transitional funding over 18 months will be made available to schools which have a lifting of their decile rating to help them adjust to their new funding levels.