Parents support school donations

Most parents and caregivers in Marlborough reach for their wallets when the schools their children attend ask for a donation.

Primary and secondary education in New Zealand is technically free, but schools around the country request financial donations from families over and above funding from the Ministry of Education to help pay for extras such as technology, sports equipment, library books and professional development for teachers.

The Marlborough Express contacted all 36 schools in Marlborough to find out how they handle financial donations. Questions asked included how much money they requested, what they spent it on and the average annual payment rate.

Of the 21 schools that responded, Marlborough Boys' College requested the highest financial donation per pupil at $200, while Queen Charlotte College and Lynton Downs, Westmount, Wairau Valley, and Woodbank schools did not request any donation.

For the schools that asked for donations, Renwick School had the highest payment rate at 97 per cent, which principal Simon Heath attributed to the close-knit support of the Renwick community. "We are fortunate to have an incredibly supportive community. We are in difficult times and students and families need support, not extra pressure. The school donation is simply that, a donation. Parents were simply reminded if they had not made one.

Havelock, Rapaura, Redwoodtown and Springlands schools had the region's second-highest payment rate for financial donations, at 80 per cent. Bohally Intermediate School had the lowest at around 50 per cent.

Schools that requested donations did not penalise families for non-payment, but provided payment options allowing them to pay the donations off over the year.

Most schools offered a discount if the donation was paid in full at the beginning of the year.

Riverlands School principal Dave Parsons said the school heavily relied on donations as budgeted income. However, by law schools were unable to demand payment or call it a fee.

"We do not ‘name and shame' or penalise students in any other way. In fact we have had some parents offering to pay the donation on behalf of struggling families who are unable to pay."

Witherlea School principal Murray Hewson said that every pupil at the school benefited from the donations collected so every family should contribute.

"We would like all families to make the board-established level of donation but it is illegal to require it of families. Donations are essential to the school's operation as they enable resources beyond that which the Government deems necessary."


Annual donations requested by Marlborough schools (per pupil):

Canvastown School: $20

Rai Valley School: $20

St Mary's School: $40

Renwick School: $60

Spring Creek School: $60

Springlands School: $80

Tua Marina School: $80

Redwoodtown School: $80

Marlborough Girls' College: $180

Marlborough Boys' College: $200

Bohally Intermediate School: $100

Havelock School: $100

Kaikoura High School: $120

Rapaura School: $120

Riverlands School: $45

Witherlea School: $95

Queen Charlotte College: Nil

Westmount School Marlborough: Nil

Lynton Downs School: Nil

Woodbank School: Nil

Wairau Valley School: Nil 

The Marlborough Express