Where does our money go?

Education is every child’s right. It’s the key to a future with choices and opportunities.

Most schools ask parents to contribute to the running of the school via the ‘School Donation'.

Ridgway is a high decile school. This has been worked out by the Ministry of Education using their special formula, which largely relies on census information about the income levels of the community the school is located in. Other factors, such as house hold crowding, education qualifications and occupations are also considered.

(Don’t be fooled into thinking that a decile ranking tells you how ‘good’ the school is. High decile schools are not necessarily ‘better’ than a low decile school, they are just located in more affluent areas.)

The advantage of being a high decile school is that our community has a large number of well-educated, entrepreneurial, talented, competent, and skilled people who are able to offer support to the school, and invariably do! The disadvantage of being a high decile school is that the government does not provide us with as much funding as they do for low decile schools.

The MOE also determines how much a school should spend on such things as; ICT, relievers, special needs education and repairs needed due to vandalism. No doubt they have complicated formulas for these things too.

Usually these calculations are quite conservative, and Ridgway school could never have hoped to enjoy such a wonderful library or developed such a fast and reliable ICT infrastructure by relying on government funding.

We are similarly given a very limited amount of money to meet the special education needs of children who do not qualify for extra funding because their needs are not considered “high enough”, yet are quite different to most of their same aged peers. This alone is a big topic and it affects many children. I’ll have more to say about this on another occasion.

The majority of any school’s costs are fixed. We have to keep our buildings and grounds clean and tidy, repair broken windows and pipes, keep the lights and heating on as required, and pay the wages of our amazing support staff. Roughly 85% of our annual budget goes to these fixed costs.

From what remains of our funding we must provide for the wide variety of learning needs that our children have. We do our best to cater for the diversity of ability and interests by providing a rich curriculum that will engage every child and ensure that every one is continually being both supported and challenged to learn and develop lifelong skills. To help us we must continually seek training for our teachers and purchase the resources and consumables that enable us to present up to date learning activities that motive our children to learn. Unfortunately it is this area of our budget(provision for children’s learning) that is most likely to suffer when other costs creep up. Those of you good with maths are already thinking, “That’s 15% of the budget left for the children”, and that’s about the minimum amount that we do need to spend.   Our 2014 budget allocates the equivalent of 12% of our government funding for curriculum resources, and 3% for professional development of teachers. Curriculum resources include all the materials that children use during learning activities as well as books that teachers may use to prepare for their lessons. Computers, maths, science or sports equipment all fall into the curriculum resources category.

Others of you are wondering, “What about the paintwork?” Good point. Every year we must save some money to pay for long term building maintenance and to replace any aging equipment essential for running the school (e.g. boiler repairs, painting, data projectors and student computers). Again there are clever formulas that tell us how much we have to save. This amount changes from year to year, depending on the value of our assets. In 2014 it equates to about 9%of our government funding.

The percentages I’ve given above add up to 109%. Our budget provides the minimum education spending that our community would expect. If you’re asking, “How can they do it?” Then you are asking the same question I am. Actually we can’t. Our budget has been trimmed and trimmed again. We have already made changes so that we can save money, and we benefit greatly from the enormous contribution of a few parents who do a significant amount of work for us in a voluntary capacity. The truth is, we rely on fundraising. No surprises. You’ve heard this before.

If you have already made a voluntary donation – thank you very much. If you haven’t done so yet, please do if you are able. Your contribution does make a difference.

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