• Nick Smith

Education Minister Nick Smith today announced the selection of forty schools that will participate in next year's $10 million trial of self managing property funding, during a visit to Waihi College in the Coromandel.

"Parents and principals are far better judges of their schools needs than bureaucrats based in Wellington. The current method of property funding is akin to an annual lottery with no certainty for schools from one year to the next. I am committed to giving schools the flexibility to manage their property to get the best possible results for the education of their students."

Since the Tomorrow's Schools reforms there has been a progressive move along the path of self-management of property through schools planning their own maintenance and administering their own work projects. However, much of the important capital resourcing for such things as health and safety and modernisation is still controlled by the Ministry. On 1 October, the tenth anniversary of Tomorrow's Schools, Dr Smith announced that a $10 million pilot would be undertaken involving 40 schools nationwide. Essentially these schools will be able to negotiate a five-year contract with the Ministry to fully self manage their own property.

"Schools were invited to register their interest in participating in the pilot and over 550 have leapt at the opportunity to do so. The response was overwhelming and indicates that schools like the flexibility and certainty bulk funding of property offers."

The forty schools were selected on criteria of urban and rural location, size, school type and decile rating. In addition, schools had to show that they were already effective property managers and that the pilot would only be an extension of what they were already doing.

"By getting a broad cross section of schools the effectiveness of the scheme can be accurately assessed. The forty schools have until the end of April next year to negotiate a development plan with the Ministry showing how they will keep the school in a fit state of repair and create an effective learning environment. The Ministry will then undertake to progressively advance the capital funding needed for work identified in the plan, including any extra classrooms to support roll growth. In this way boards will have the incentive and, what's more, the ability to effectively plan the long-term improvement of their schools."

"This trial is part of National's direction of giving parents and principals more control over their school's resources. The pilot will run for next year and National hopes to make this scheme available to all schools, on an optional basis, in 2001. It's all about getting education decisions being made closer to students."