The Association of Proprietors of Integrated Schools has received confirmation that funding in one area in the Government’s May Budget that was initially only for state schools, will also be available for integrated schools.
In the Budget, funding for Learning Support Modifications was announced, with an allocation of $127M to state schools for the purchase and installation of modifications in schools to ensure accessibility for all students.
According to an editorial by Dr Kevin Shore in a July Kotui e-newsletter from NZCEO, such installations include automatic doors, lifts, fencing, hoists, and bathroom modifications. The funding is over a period of two years and is a response to meet the increased volume in demand on schools for such modifications, Dr Shore wrote.
After the budget, APIS went into negotiations with the Ministry of Education, over the funding.
Dr Shore, the chief executive of NZCEO, wrote that “APIS has advocated to the Minister and the Ministry of Education that this budget should also be available to state-integrated schools, and we have now received confirmation that this is the case”.
Dr Shore added that this is a pleasing outcome, and “APIS would like to think a consequence of the arguments developed in reaching a successful conclusion for [the Government’s] Essential Property Maintenance Package” funding.
The EPMP was a $396million funding package that was announced in late 2019 but applied then only to state schools. It was part of a wider package of Government infrastructure spending.
Negotiations over funding equity for integrated schools followed, and a judicial review was sought by integrated schools in 2021, but the sector received a one-off funding package of $52.8million for maintenance and upgrades in the 2021 Budget. This was to be delivered in two tranches.
APIS at the time thanked then-Education Minister Chris Hipkins for his advocacy and support for state-integrated schools.
In Dr Shore’s July 2023, editorial, he stated that “APIS must now prepare a 2024 Budget bid to the Government for a sum of approximately $12M-$14M, so that state-integrated schools can access these [Learning Support Modifications] funds from 2024. The Ministry would like to have a process in place that has similarities to the EPMP process, which highlights a level of trust in our sector, and affirms the effectiveness of that process. Staff at APIS would have preferred not to have this responsibility but having advocated for these funds for our proprietors, we believe we need to step up in support of our sector”.