Govt comes up short on school funds

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Queenstown Primary principal John Western is again critical of his school being starved of special-needs funding. 

“The [funding] criteria is very tight, [apparently to ensure] not too many people get it for the amount of money available,” Western told National Radio’s Insight programme recently. 

“[Students have] got to have issues in a multitude of domains to be accessing it.” 

A large number of children who should get support are not, Western believes. 

From Queenstown Primary’s roll of 650 pupils, three children with severe needs qualify for individual Ongoing and Renewable Resourcing Schemes (ORRS) funding. 

Yet another 145 kids don’t receive ORRS funding, despite 15 of them having moderate difficulties, 70 needing literacy, numeracy and social-skills support, and 60 bright children requiring a programme for the academically-gifted. 

These latter 145 pupils are supposedly funded by the school’s “special education grant” but Queenstown Primary gets only $24,000, despite spending $130,000 on special education last year, Western says. 

Along with other educators, the Queenstown principal is speaking out ahead of a Government special-needs funding review. 

Western originally cast doubt on special-needs funding in Mountain Scene back in April 2008. 

“We’re very lucky we can get good funding support from the community,” Western says. 

“But that comes at a cost,” he adds, explaining Queenstown Primary’s furniture and buildings are “pretty average” as a result.