Unopened Partnership Schools may cost millions

Labour had always strongly opposed Partnership Schools (alongside teacher unions), and campaigned on abolishing them. When they took over  Government they moved quickly, but due to contractual commitments millions of dollars may have to be paid for schools that will never open.

NZH: Charter schools that may never open were paid $3.4m

Taxpayers have paid $3.4 million to five proposed charter schools that may never open.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has told National education spokeswoman Nikki Kayethat two proposed schools were paid establishment grants on the day the Ardern Government was sworn in, October 26.

Two others have been paid establishment grants since then, apparently because the new Government was bound by contracts signed before the election even though Hipkins has introduced a bill abolishing charter, or partnership, schools.

None of the five schools is believed to have paid back any of the money yet because they are still negotiating about either opening state or integrated schools instead, or recovering their costs for dreams that will never be realised.

The Ministry of Education has advised Hipkins that terminating contracts for the 11 existing charter schools and the five proposed schools “would generate compensation costs for committed costs of up to $1m per school (total of $16m for 16 schools), but is likely to be lower as not all schools would have committed costs of $1m”.

Kaye said adding that to the $3.4m in establishment grants, plus extra property costs the state may take on if charter schools become state schools, make “a $20m policy to change the names of the schools”.

But Hipkins said: “Negotiations with all existing and proposed charter schools are ongoing. I’d encourage the Opposition to contain their wild speculation until those negotiations have concluded.”

Some proposed schools may now never open, but others could switch to the newly named option, “State schools with designated character“.

Blue Light Ventures, which runs youth activities out of police stations, abandoned its plans to open a charter school in February for up to 90 boys in Years 11 to 13 at Wairakei, after local residents objected.

Blue Light chief executive Rod Bell said then that he was still discussing “the contract position” with the ministry, which paid it an establishment grant of $568,783 on August 21.

However at least three of the four charter schools that were due to open next year are still hoping to open schools in some form.

Partnership schools (to be abolished):

Owned by private sponsors; free to employ non-registered teachers; not bound by NZ curriculum; state pays establishment grants; state pays operational funding into one pot; no student fees. Example: Vanguard Military School.

State schools with designated character (the new alternative):

Owned by the state but private sponsors may have board representation; must employ registered teachers; must follow NZ curriculum; state provides capital for school buildings plus operational funding in two main pots – one for teacher salaries which must be paid at agreed collective rates, and one for other costs; no student fees. Example: Ngā Kura a Iwi (tribal schools).

Integrated schools (longstanding alternative):

Owned by private proprietors, who may have up to four people on the school board; must employ registered teachers; must follow NZ curriculum but may include religious instruction; state may fund up to 85 per cent of building costs, then funds operations as for state schools with teacher salaries which must be paid at agreed collective rates; may charge attendance dues solely to cover property costs.

Many religious based schools have become integrated schools.

Labour have not opposed privately owned Integrated Schools, but have strongly opposed privately owned (mostly trust owned) non-religion based schools.

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  1. Kitty Catkin

     /  3rd April 2018

    Millions seems a small price to pay for putting one over on ACT and the people who support them – if one is Labour.

    It is seldom mentioned that the one that failed was closed.

    • Gezza

       /  3rd April 2018

      Will you be watching this clown or have you got too much class (I hope) ?

    • Corky

       /  3rd April 2018

      I wonder how many Lefty Pollies have been on this programme/competition?

      • Gezza

         /  3rd April 2018

        Dunno. I can’t think of any. 🤔

        They might be 🙄, in some people’s eyes, but they’ve been that desperate. 😱

  2. Corky

     /  3rd April 2018

    Never let common sense and money get in the way of ideology..

  3. Bill Courtney

     /  3rd April 2018

    But almost all of this cost would have been avoided if Nikki Kaye had simply waited until after the election before signing the Fifth Round contracts.

    These were signed in early September but there was no valid reason to move so quickly. The Fifth Round schools were not due to open until 2019, so a delay of a month or so would have made no practical difference to the time needed to establish the schools – if National had won.

    But a win by a government opposed to the charter school ideology would have seen the negotiations stop and no Fifth Round contracts would have been signed.

  1. Clearly ideology is more important than not wasting public money | The Inquiring Mind

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