New Zealand Labour Party

Troubled school wanted $25,000 dollars to fence farm

The troubled Whangaruru charter school asked Hekia Parata for $25,000 to fence the school farm at the expense of spending on teaching, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.

“This unbelievable revelation comes hard on the heels of Hekia Parata’s decision to ignore a damning audit, overrule her officials and spend another $129,000 dollars on the school. The audit listed a catalogue of wasteful failures at Whangaruru which is costing five times as much per pupil as state schools.

“A letter released by the Ministry of Education, dated just last week, shows the Trust running the school wanted to cuts its operational expenditure to fund the fencing on the farm which it bought in the first place with taxpayer’s money.

“I presume the students were not going to be paid for this work which suggests they could have been exploited for the Trust's financial gain.

“In response the Minister has not ruled out spending the money on the fence, but says it must meet the criteria for spending on health and safety or education.

“This comes as the troubled school is set to receive close to $1 million for the rest of the year.

“Many schools are struggling to get by on their operational grants and would welcome additional funding. They will be no doubt be infuriated that a charter school seems to think its operational budget is so large it can be cut back to add value to one of their assets.

“Charter Schools are rapidly becoming an education debacle. Hekia Parata must admit defeat and close Whangaruru to avoid the exploitation of its students,” Chris Hipkins says.