School Donations: Rich get Richer…
About $140 million was donated to New Zealand schools in 2017 – and more than half of that went to just 10 per cent of schools.
Wellington College received the most money of any state school, banking almost $5.7m.
Coming in second was St Peter’s College in the Auckland suburb of Epsom, which received more than $3m in donations.
At Auckland Grammar School, just 350 metres down the road, donations topped $2.2m.
And a three-minute drive away at Epsom Girls’ Grammar School, the figure was almost $1.8m.
Between them, the three Epsom schools received just shy of $7m.
By contrast, 37 schools recorded no donations for 2017, and a further 79 received $1000 or less.
The data, supplied by the Ministry of Education, included all donations to a school, whether from parents or other sources.
Wellington College had a bumper year for donations in 2017 because donors contributed to a new performing arts centre, principal Gregor Fountain said.
Some schools have scrapped parental donations to ease the financial burden on families.
In its election manifesto, Labour pledged an additional $150 per student for schools that did not ask parents for donations.
Little has been said about the policy since, with Education Minister Chris Hipkins saying it was “Budget sensitive”, so he could not talk about it.
Capping the amount schools could ask for was one of the suggestions to come out of the Tomorrow’s Schools review.
The taskforce heard some families could be “put off” sending their children to a particular school due to high donation levels.
Limiting the amount schools could request would mean all families had equity of choice, the report said.
A donation was, by definition, voluntary. However, Post-Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) president Jack Boyle said there were many schools where it “isn’t voluntary, nor is it a donation. It’s a compulsory fee”.