Teachers and students at a rural Manawatu school are being forced to raise money to employ a teacher for the first term next year because the Education Ministry will not pay.
The number of students at Waituna West School has risen this term to 51, which makes it eligible to employ a third teacher. But seven of those students will be heading to secondary school at the end of the year, bringing down the school's roll and the amount of ministry funding it receives for teachers. Schools are funded by the ratio of one teacher per 23 to 29 students.
However, principal Glen Richardson said in term two of next year another seven pupils would be starting at the school, which would make it eligible again for three teachers.
Mr Richardson said it did not make sense to employ a teacher for five months, then drop that teacher for 10 weeks, then re-employ that teacher part-way through next year.
"That's why we've decided to fundraise to employ that teacher for term one," he said. "There's no flexibility [with the ministry] at all and everyone has a case to plead."
He said it was also unfair on students.
A teacher's wages for a term would cost about $15,000.
Mr Richardson and teacher Annie Simpson decided to raise money by running in the Manawatu Striders half-marathon in August.
"Hopefully, our whole school is going to seek sponsorship to run one, two or three kilometres with us," he said.
"Running a half-marathon is certainly something I have never done before, but the response so far has been really amazing.
"It's not something I think any teacher or school has ever done to raise money, but we think it's for a good cause."
Mr Richardson said if the money cannot be raised then the teacher involved would not have a job at the end of the year.
The ministry's group manager of resourcing, John Clark, said each year primary schools were given a provisional staffing entitlement providing them with their assured level of staffing for the following year.
Mr Clark said the provisional roll is an estimate of the school's roll at October 10 the following year, based on the roll's history and predictions supplied by the school.
"If the roll that Waituna West is predicting is substantiated during the provisional roll process, then the school does not need to `lose' that teacher, only to rehire them later because the school will be staffed up to that level," he said
- © Fairfax NZ News
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