Parents at ease with school donations
MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD AND FAIRFAX
There does not appear to be too much of an issue over parents paying their schools' voluntary donations in Timaru.
It has been revealed that some schools have enlisted debt collectors to make parents pay "voluntary" donations, with one school attempting to ban a teenager from the ball until the optional fee was paid.
However, when the Timaru Herald spoke to principals of Timaru's state schools, most said parents did not have an issue with paying the voluntary donation, but neither did they chase up those who did not pay.
Sacred Heart primary school principal David Armstrong said his school's parents appeared to accept the voluntary donations were a means of covering fees for extra-curricular activities.
"Government funding doesn't cover everything, and most parents don't quibble about it. Everyone is entitled to a free education, so we just encourage parents to pay the donation," he said.
In October 2011, a parent of a Wakatipu High School pupil complained to the Education Ministry after receiving an invoice for unpaid fees and donations from debt-collecting agency Baycorp, including $300 for a camp that she had not been notified about.
Mr Armstrong said such incidents were "worrying".
"It doesn't seem right to treat parents like that."
Timaru Girls' High School principal Sarah Davis said it had an automatic payment system for donations.
"We have close to a 100 per cent payment rate," she said.
"The donation is about $80 to $100 per student, but there's a ceiling for families who have more than two children attending the school. As a state school, we have to ensure education is accessible to everyone."
Geraldine High School principal Juliette Hayes said parents accepted donations as a way to fund extra-curricular services. The voluntary donation component was about $80 a pupil a year.
"The extra money goes a long way. We really appreciate any contribution parents are willing to give towards the school."
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