Twenty Bucks!

By Wayne Bainbridge

Over the holiday period I stumbled across many media reports on the huge costs of children starting school. I read of huge school donations suggested by schools; $500 for inner city schools, $1,000 at a Remuera school (per child). Even in West Auckland, $150-$200 per child is not uncommon. Then we read of uniform routs where a polo shirt with a school crest costs $45, but the same polo without the crest sells at $12.

Another reported cost is all sorts of ‘compulsory’ levies:
− $5 I.T. fee.
− $5 photocopying fee.
− $10 art fee.
− $10 classroom consumable fee.

These ‘fees’ are illegal, yet schools continue to charge them. School donations are not compulsory, they are voluntary. The compulsory levies are criminal.

It is very common these days for schools to have BYOD – bring your own digital device to school. Not only are parents responsible for the cost of the device, but also for insurance in the event of loss, theft or damage.

What makes me irritated is that schools seem to get away with it. The Ministry does nothing to enforce its own policies and seems to turn a blind eye to it. Later in the year, we hear of high schools refusing to let children to go to the school ball if they haven’t paid this school donation.

I am proud of the fact that at this school we have no compulsory levies. We have no uniform so there is no extra cost to parents. We don’t rip people off with stationery costs charging just $20. The amount of profit the school makes on stationery sales over the year is around $600. School donations are $70 per child or $100 per family. They are not compulsory and there is an incentive of a lucky prize draw – this year the prize is a Sharp Microwave and a second prize of a free car oil service.

I have talked about several emotions in this blog: anger, embarrassment of some of my colleagues and finally pride in the position of our school. Best wishes for a relatively free education this year. Twenty bucks is all it costs to start school at Matipo!