South Auckland MPs support better funding campaign
The funding freeze on schools has drawn in Green list MP Marama Davidson and Manurewa electorate MP Louisa Wall to get behind support staff who have been hit by it.
Support staff from various south Auckland schools have voiced their concern over the financial issue. Many fear hours being cut or even worse losing their jobs.
The staff appealing are members of teachers' union NZEI Te Riu Roa.
Joining teachers and support staff in Manurewa, Davidson visited Homai primary and Wall was at Rowandale school.
The staff at Rowandale school gathered signatures from parents on a petition calling on the Ministry of Education to improve the pay of support staff in schools.
"I think support staff are core staff. They are critical to our ability to meet the needs of our students," Wall says.
"Their wages should be paid for in the same way teachers are - by the state - not from the Operations Grant which is for the day to day running of the school. They also deserve to be paid for the full year as teachers are."
"To me, if we don't value and support the people who work with our children then we undermine the ability of the children to get a good education," Wall asserts.
"I believe education lays the foundation for us to go on and have good lives."
NZEI member and support staff at James Cook High School, Linda Jordan says principals and teachers are the first to tell them that schools could not function without them.
"The sector is behind support staff," she says.
Schools receive discretionary funding in the form of operational grants. It is up to them to decide the best use of that money.
The Minister of Education Hekia Parata says in 2017 just over $1.35 billion is being distributed to schools in operational grants, as well as an extra $12.3 million for those schools who have students from long-term benefit dependent families.
"An extra $12.3 million, although targeted, is not a freeze, and I disagree with the claim about 1300 schools missing out because that money was shared by more than 98 per cent of schools," she says.
"Funding has also increased at a faster rate than inflation."
She says operational funding and teacher salaries are not the only components of schools' funding. They also receive funding for learning support, curriculum resources, professional learning and development.
On the issue of actual pay negotiations for support staff, Parata asserts collective bargaining is a matter for the Ministry of Education.
"The Ministry is willing to engage in negotiations with the union representatives. The unions have made the choice to discontinue bargaining while these paid union meetings occur," she says.
"This effectively postpones any meaningful progress for the support staff they represent, when the unions are fully aware that there is no back-dating."