Charter school policy made up on the fly

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Today’s announcement of changes to charter school funding and an application round for new schools to open in 2017 shows the government is scrabbling to save a failing policy.

“The exorbitant amounts that some of the charter school operators are banking as surpluses or paying themselves as ‘management fees’ obviously has the Minister alarmed,” said Angela Roberts, PPTA President.

This year one of the charter school operators is being funded at $50,000 for each student they have at the school, and they already own the land they are based on, so their property costs are minimal.

“A few years ago David Seymour said we have the best charter school policy in the world. We’ve seen one school miss all its performance targets and instead of being closed, given more money, and others stashing away their funding hand over fist.”

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The accounts for the South Auckland Middle School, released recently, show that on top of management and staff salaries, the school paid the Villa Education Trust, run by Alwyn and Karen Poole, a management fee of $260,000 in 2014.

The changes announced today won’t affect funding for the first nine charter schools.

“We were told that this policy was a pilot, which would be rigorously evaluated,” said Roberts.

“The evaluation hasn’t reported anything yet, but here we have more charters being announced, and the policy being changed already. While we welcome changes which will make the funding less out of kilter with that received by most students, it seems to be a pretty shambolic way to make policy.”

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