Primary school principals say some schools will face budget holes and some students may go without resources because the Ministry of Education has changed its initial advice about lump sum payments won by teachers in their latest collective agreement settlement will be paid.
The Ministry initially advised that all teacher lump sum payments would be funded centrally. This advice was then changed and an email was sent to schools last Thursday (20 July) by Edpay, the Ministry’s payroll system, stating that lump sum payments for teachers funded by school operational funding, including local school fundraising – known as board-funded teachers – will come out of the school’s own funds.
Edpay said that schools will be liable for the cost of the payments depending on how they had coded their teachers on the Ministry’s payroll in mid-June, when the teachers’ agreement was ratified.
The lump sum payments of $3000 for all teachers and an additional $2210 for union members were negotiated by NZEI Te Riu Roa for the Primary Teachers Collective Agreement in June.
The Ministry agreed to the payments in recognition of the value of the teaching profession and the benefits of union members negotiating collectively to improve terms and conditions for the profession.
Tute Mila, principal at Arakura School in Wainuiomata, said that why she wanted teacher to be paid more, the change of advice from the Ministry had blindsided many prinicpals.
“I am already running a significant deficit in order to employ extra teachers to reduce class sizes, which to me is actually a responsibility the Government should be taking. Now I am being penalised by having to pay for part of the Ministry’s offer, which further increases my deficit. And that’s a big big deal; they’re passing the buck to schools.”
The Ministry has apologised for the error, but principals say they need more than an apology.
“It’s unacceptable that schools and students will be impacted financially by this. There are curriculum resources for our students we cannot afford, so having to pick up the Ministry’s bill means that situation is even worse. It’s great the Ministry recognises the benefits of unions and collective bargaining, but it needs to step up and pay for its own offer to primary teachers,” says Tute Mila.