New Zealand Law Society - School donation changes in new bill

School donation changes in new bill

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The Education (School Donations) Amendment Bill was introduced to Parliament on 30 May by Education Minister Chris Hipkins.

The bill is intended to reduce the widespread expectation that parents should pay voluntary contributions to schools for their child’s education. A school donations scheme for decile 1-7 schools will be introduced whereby schools will be paid a nominal amount per student if the school agrees to comply with certain conditions. The explanatory note says this is an important step to ensuring education is genuinely free.

The main condition for schools choosing to participate in the scheme is that the boards of trustees agree to stop asking parents for voluntary payments. The bill enables the Minister to recover funding paid under the school donations scheme if boards then request voluntary payments from parents.

The bill amends the Education Act 1989.

The Act will commence on the day after the date of the Royal assent.

Part 1 inserts new sections 79A and 79B. Section 79A provides for discretionary grants for boards. Section 79B provides for the effect of non-compliance with earlier discretionary grants. It requires the Minister to have regard to the extent to which the board has failed to comply with all or any of the conditions of a discretionary grant paid to the board. After consultation with the board, the Minister may then determine for a grant amount that is less than it otherwise would have been.

Part 2 Consequential amendments. Clause 5 amends section 79 (Grants for boards) to make it clear that s79(1) is about grants and supplementary grants for boards.