Schools forced to’ ask parents to dig deep

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Queenstown Primary is asking school families for extra money as it battles rising costs and minimal Government funding. 

It’s the first time QPS has requested donations from parents on top of school fees. 

Board chairman Noel Saxon says the school has no choice. 

“For many years we’ve been reluctant to ask for a donation because it’s another cost to parents. 

“But if we want to run the high quality programmes that we do then we need to look for additional funding and a donation is one way of doing that.” 

The voluntary payment is $80 per child, or $140 per family. 

QPS has joined the likes of Arrowtown School and St Joseph’s Primary, which also ask parents for contributions. Arrowtown requests $85 per child while St Joseph’s collects money through other means, like parents paying for activities such as skiing. 

Saxon says QPS has been lucky enough in the past to use its reserves from external fundraising. 

“Our extra classroom and outdoor education activities are all well over and above what we get from the Government. Ask any school and they’ll say there’s quite a shortfall in Ministry of Education funding and they’ll need to make up for it in other areas. We do that by fundraising, fairs, and other revenue streams.” 

QPS surveyed families last year about the idea and got mixed results. 

“The majority of people understand that the money is going towards the education of their children so they’re happy to contribute to that,” Saxon says. 

Saxon isn’t sure how much money the school hopes to gain from the scheme. 

Arrowtown Primary principal Robin Harris says his school gets about an 80 per cent return from their voluntary donation, which has been collected for more than five years. “We have a very good take-up rate.”