Schools sick of waiting, Foss told

JO MOIR
Last updated 05:00 21/11/2012

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A group of fed-up Taranaki school leaders met yesterday to voice their frustrations about the communication crisis between schools and government officials.

At a meeting at Manaia Primary School, principals and board of trustees members from South Taranaki demanded answers from Associate Education Minister Craig Foss.

Whanganui MP Chester Borrows arranged the meeting after several calls from vexed school leaders.

Principals told Mr Foss that some of them had been waiting up to 18 months for reimbursements for property upgrades.

Manaia Primary School principal Allan Forsyth said that if he was a cynic he would say it came down to the Education Ministry saving money.

Mr Forsyth said Auroa School had problems with its sewage tank floating off the ground in heavy rain and had paid to get it fixed from its operating grant. "They did that on the understanding that the ministry would refund them the cost and it's taken nearly two years for it to get sorted."

He said his school had a similar problem with broken wind sails damaged in bad weather last year.

"In the last five years when it comes to property plans, bureaucracy is multiplying, as is the paperwork, and tardiness is getting worse," Mr Forsyth said.

Much of the ministry's holdups could be attributed to the huge costs trying to rebuild Christchurch, Mr Foss said.

Principals responded by saying they did not mind money being spent in Christchurch but would appreciate the ministry communicating with them about it.

Mr Foss said he had been travelling around New Zealand getting feedback from schools at the same time as a property review was under way.

"I've heard similar sentiment in other parts of the country that communication and certainty are not happening."

Not getting a response from ministry officials at least saying they had received a school's concerns or questions was not good enough, Mr Foss said.

"These are very powerful examples of what's going on and I can take them back to Wellington and ask questions of the ministry and be able to back those concerns up," he said.

South Taranaki schools' frustration comes after an NZEI North Taranaki union meeting last week where New Plymouth teachers discussed other problems.

The new curriculum method of "teaching to the test", Novopay errors, national standards and league tables were just some of the growing concerns that they shared.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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