Teachers fury over budget cuts
Primary school principals are furious at the Department for Education’s decision to cut funding for the Otago Museum and Orokonui Ecosanctuary education programs, saying it will leave a ‘significant void’ in the learning of their students.
The Otago Peninsula Trust has since joined the growing list of organizations in Dunedin whose long-standing funding has been cut by the department.
Like museum and ecosanctuary staff, Otago Peninsula Trust chief executive Robyn McDonald was both dismayed and disappointed by the decision and she was now trying to figure out how the Albatross Center’s educational programs would work in a foreseeable future.
She declined to say how much money had been cut.
The president of the Otago Primary Principals’ Association and principal of the Port Chalmers school, Vicki Nicolson, said the association planned to send letters to the ministry on behalf of principals in the area, urging it to reconsider funding cuts.
“I don’t know if we’re going to be able to make any changes, but I can say it’s not a decision that’s top of our charts.”
The ministry cut $80,000 in funding for the museum’s Local Enrichment Program (ELC) and $70,000 in funding for the Ecosanctuary’s ELC, meaning organizations will no longer be able to offer free educational tours to students.
Museum director Dr Ian Griffin said it was ‘a huge kick in the gut’ for them and the schools, and meant that from July 1 the museum would introduce admission fees $10 per student.
Ms Nicolson said education programs were widely used by Dunedin and rural schools, but if an admission charge was applied it would make it too expensive for many schools.
“There will be schools that can’t fund $10 per child, because it’s not just the $10 per child, you have to get the kids back and forth.
“So if you’re relying on a bus — those prices have skyrocketed this year — you could easily be looking at $600 per class for a visit to the museum or Orokonui.”
She said the cost could not be passed on to parents because it was a curriculum-based activity and schools could not legally charge for them.
“So that must be coming from our magical operations grant funding, which is already under significant stress.”
Schools only learned of the funding cuts earlier this week and many schools had already booked visits for the next term.
She said some of these schools may not be able to afford the unexpected cost, and a significant number of schools in Dunedin and Otago would need to do feasibility studies to see if they can actually afford to do these. trips in the future.
The educational programs were really meaningful to the students and she was disappointed that many students were absent.
She said visits to the museum or eco-sanctuary offered sights, sounds and smells that could not be experienced in a classroom.
“It will leave a significant void in their learning.”
Like the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, the New Zealand Marine Science Center is negotiating an ELC contract with the ministry.
Pauline Cleaver, associate lead for pathways and progress at the Department for Education, said 146 providers submitted proposals – 72 were successful within the fixed funding available.
Of the Otago Southland suppliers who applied, five were successful and five were unsuccessful.
All proposals were assessed by three panels, which included representatives with experience in early learning, Maori engagement, Pacific engagement, and culture and heritage.