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While education is free from the ages of five to 19 at state schools, that doesn’t mean it’s cheap. ELI HILL looks at how much Wairarapa schools spend to educate the next generation.

The cost of education is stiff, if figures made public for the 2017 school year are anything to go by.

Data shows that in 2017, New Zealand schools spent just over $7 billion, including $6.5 billion from the government.

Schools raised $500 million and international pupils injected another $148 million.

The publication of statistics by the Ministry of Education to the New Zealand Herald, under the Official Information Act, comes after growing controversy over how many schools will be better off if they agree to drop parent donations in exchange for a $150-a-pupil payment for decile one to seven schools.

The donations debate, while important, is a relatively small part of a much bigger picture on school spending.

In the Wairarapa region, Wairarapa College was the largest spender, with $9.86 million spent educating its 1044 pupils.

Like most schools, the majority of those funds [68.6 per cent] went into learning resources – including staff salaries, curricular and extra-curricular activities, information technology, and library material.

The next highest secondary schools were Rathkeale College with $5.85 million, and Makoura College, which spent $4.81 million.

Of the primary and intermediate schools, Masterton Primary [298 pupils] was the biggest spender, with $3.42 million spent.

Much of that money also went into learning resources, which cost the school just over $3 million, 88.4 per cent of the total it spent in 2017.

The next highest spenders were Masterton Intermediate School, with 2.98 million, and Lakeview School, with $2.79 million spent.

By contrast, the lowest spending school, Tuturumuri School, which had a roll of seven, spent $214,133.

Fundraising was an important part of many schools’ budgets, particularly Trinity Schools and rural schools.

Rathkeale College raised the largest pool of funds, $1,510,740, or 25.8 per cent of the total amount spent.

St Matthew’s Collegiate, with a roll of 314, raised $1,089,390 – 27.1 per cent of total spent.

Hadlow Preparatory School raised $458,430 – 30.1 per cent of the total amount spent,

Rural schools Kahutara and Tinui raised $264,762, [30.9 per cent] and $68,683 [18 per cent] respectively, while Dalefield raised $61,785 [14.7 per cent].

Administration, property, and depreciation were also factors in schools’ spending.

The only college to have more than 10 per cent of its spending go into administration was Kuranui College which spent $559,282, [12.8 per cent].

Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Wairarapa was the next highest by percentage, with $139,313 [9.7 per cent] spent on administration.

Primary schools tended to spend a greater percentage of funds on administration than their secondary school counterparts.

Whareama School spent $71,612 [15.2 per cent], Pirinoa School spent $54,306 [14.5 per cent], and Tinui School spent $53,762 [14.1 per cent] on admin.

Wainuioru, St Teresa’s [Featherston], South Featherston, Tuturumuri, Mauriceville, and Dalefield schools also used more than 10 per cent of their spending on administration.

Property also weighed heavily on some schools’ pockets.

Despite it only taking up 7.5 per cent of school’s spending, Wairarapa College’s spending of $739,802 on property was more than the combined property spending of Solway College, Kuranui College, Ponatahi Christian School, and Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Wairarapa.

By percentage, Solway College [10.3 per cent] and TKKM [10.2 per cent] were the largest spenders on property from the secondary schools.

Lakeview, with a roll of 401, spent $227,086 on property – 8.1 per cent of its total.

MIS spent $220,314 on property [7.4 per cent], while Greytown School, with a roll of 357, spent $190,355 [9.3 per cent].

Depreciation was disproportionately high for rural schools, costing Wainuioru School $41,662, or 6 per cent of its total expenditure, and Whareama School $29,520, or 6.3 per cent of the total spent.

Tinui School bucked the trend, with depreciation costing $4169, just 1.1 per cent of the total amount spent.

Depreciation cost urban-based primary schools Greytown and Masterton Primary 3.6 per cent and 1.6 per cent of the total amount spent respectively.

– with NZME