Schools’ windfall welcomed

by Paul Campbell

Principals across the Kaipara are eyeing their new bank balances and making plans for some school improvements, although the surprise $400 million cash injection from the government nationally has not made such a huge impact on overall local budgets.

The money was announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Labour’s annual conference. It was designed to modernise classrooms, fix roofs and gutters and improve heating and lighting.

Nearly every state school was expected to receive between $50,000 and $400,000 depending on enrolment, decile and location.

While a straw poll reveals Kaipara schools are hugely appreciative of the windfall, Kaipara Mayor Jason Smith says almost half of the schools in Kaipara receive the minimum amount available.

“By my calculation, 22 schools in Kaipara District got money in the announcement last week. Ten of them got the minimum amount of $50,000 because their rolls are small. Six of these schools have fewer than 30 pupils,” Dr Smith said.

“The grants were allocated based on school roll sizes. The largest amount went to Mangawhai Beach School with $332,640, while the combined schools of Dargaville received nearly $800,000.

“These grants will be used for maintenance, and I hope they’ll make our schools better for Kaipara students. It’s a particularly nice Christmas present for the smaller schools, which are the core of our rural communities.”

Tinopai school is among those receiving $50,000, and principal, Sonia Kaihe, says ”we just love the news — it’s going to make a huge difference to maintenance.”

The school hosts the annual Tinopai Fishing Contest each year. “Funds raised here can then go to other areas of need, like our digital technology course and devices.”