Parents boycott Waka High levy

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Group’s school uniform protest.

A group of Queenstown parents is refusing to pay a voluntary levy to Wakatipu High in protest at “exorbitant” school uniform charges.

The high school is under threat of a Commerce Commission inquiry into its school uniform monopoly contract with Queenstown retailer Rockies.

Local mum Rebecca Thompson, who’s complained to the commission, is spearheading the payment protest – which could see school coffers lose thousands of dollars.

Thompson faced an “exorbitant” $1500 uniform bill for her two children at exclusive supplier Rockies – despite Postie Plus selling the same outfits for $700 less through its nationwide SchoolTex range.

SchoolTex also donates up to 10 per cent of the price of each garment sold for schools to use as they wish.

But Wakatipu High so far isn’t interested – it has an ongoing contract with Rockies to be the official supplier of clothing bearing the school logo.

“I think if the school can afford to turn away money [from SchoolTex] then they obviously don’t need our donations, do they,” says Thompson.

She says about 15 members in her support group are boycotting the voluntary levy – set at $140 for one child, $220 for two and $260 for three or more.

That’s on top of school fees – Thompson has to stump up $750 for her two kids’ tuition, plus camps.

“The donations are voluntary and tax deductible and [Wakatipu High’s] saying it ensures better cultural and sporting activities and forms a component of the school’s budget, but none of us are giving them a cent.”

Thompson says some parents she’s spoken to – who won’t talk to Mountain Scene – can’t afford the levy.

Some are resorting to buying second-hand garments, cutting the school logo off, and gluing it to a new Postie Plus polo shirt, she says.

Principal Lyn Cooper says while school levies are voluntary, “we are reliant on them because the [government] funding doesn’t cover everything we need to do”.

The school’s uniform committee is meeting to discuss the option of using Postie Plus, but nothing will change – if at all – till the current contract expires, Cooper says.

She doesn’t know when that will be but says the Rockies contract is “long-term”.