Classmate: Waka High puts hand up for help

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Wakatipu High plans to ask Queens­town to help raise about $500,000 so it can make up for annual Government funding shortfalls. 

The decile 10 school is under pressure to fight off a predicted $25,000 deficit this year and needs more money to pay for vital technology upgrades and ongoing expenditure. 

As a result, the school’s new board of trustees has decided to appeal to the wider community for a much-needed cash injection. 

“We’re a decile 10 school which means we’re at the bottom of the rung when it comes to state funding,” board member Greg Turner explains. 

“That whole system is based on the premise that more wealthy areas will be able to supplement their budgets with fundraising activities from the community.” 

Turner says he has discovered that other decile 10 schools operate on $500,000 to $1 million more a year than Wakatipu High does – thanks to well-supported fundraisers. 

“Our reality is we’ve got a lot of families who are not in a position to pay the amount of money through donations that a lot of other families are,” he says. 

“I don’t think we can go to our parents and caregivers and demand more money individually off them because I think that would be unreasonable.” 

The board will next month do a letterbox drop to explain where the current needs lie. Presently, the Ministry of Education pays $1.14m each year for day-to-day operations. However, things like computers, camps, sports equipment and extra-curricular activities aren’t covered. 

“It’s time we had a serious conversation with the Wakatipu community to say, ‘Here’s where we are, here’s where we’d like to be’,” Turner says. 

“Either we need to find more funds to meet that shortfall or we need to carry on with a lesser offering than perhaps the community would like. Those are the stark realities.” 

Wakatipu High’s PTA is holding a fundraiser at Jack’s Point on Saturday night to help pay for a second Computers On Wheels (COW) unit. 

The mobile unit, holding 20 laptops, costs about $20,000. 

“I know of a lot of decile 10 schools where every student has their own computer. We’re not in a position to mandate that so we need to be able to supply more technology to the school,” Turner says. 

“The COWs are the most obvious way to do that.”