Otago principals are calling for the Ministry of
Education to review the system for paying limited statutory
managers (LSM) following claims some are charging
''exorbitant'' amounts of money which could be better spent on
Under the Education Act 1989, the ministry can intervene in
the management of a school when it believes there is risk to
the operation of the school, or the welfare or educational
performance of the pupils.
One form of intervention the ministry uses is a limited
statutory manager who can be appointed by the Secretary for
Education, to work on particular aspects of boards of
trustees' governance roles, while the board remains in
They are responsible for leadership and decision-making on
all issues related to the functions, duties and powers of the
board, and are selected based on the skills required and
their compatibility with the school environment.
Otago Primary Principal's Association president Whetu Cormick
believed the system was necessary to help schools which had
serious problems they could not solve themselves.
However, he said schools had to pay for LSMs from their own
funding, and schools were being ''charged through the roof''.
''My understanding is, they charge up to $100 per hour and
some annual invoices are nearing $90,000.
''The high cost they charge is exorbitant and it's a cost to
the young people who are in those schools.
''We would like to see the system reviewed.''
Mr Cormick was also concerned some LSMs were continuing to
work in schools, even after issues were resolved.
Green Island principal Steve Hayward said $90,000 would be
very useful for any school, particularly if it had pupils
with learning difficulties.
''I could get about five full-time teacher aides per year for
that amount. How useful would that be for children's
For $90,000, every school in Otago could get a reading
laboratory [reading support programme].
''Every dollar spent on an LSM is a dollar that could go on a
An Otago secondary school principal, who declined to be
named, said he had not heard of any horror stories involving
LSMs in Otago, but had from other parts of the country. He
agreed there was an issue with the way they were paid.
''It's become almost a double-edged sword.
''The ministry appoints the LSM and the school has to pay for
''It doesn't seem very fair - particularly if the school is
already in financial difficulty.''
He believed if the ministry funded limited statutory managers
instead of schools, it would be able to keep better checks
and balances on the issue.
Many principals spoken to by the Otago Daily Times said they
would like to see more detailed plans, timelines, goals and
exit strategies for the interventions.
Ministry of Education regional operations acting head Jill
Bond rejected the call for a review.
She said the ministry put a range of constraints on what LSMs
could charge, for how many hours, and for how long their role
''We negotiate their hourly rate and what the size of the job
is, in terms of numbers of hours per week.
''The managers must report monthly to us on progress towards
the goals set out for them by the ministry.
''A memorandum of understanding covers what they need to
achieve and by when.''
Ms Bond said that the appointments were reviewed within 12
months, as were the number of hours required to do the job as
Most schools with interventions were expected to return to
full self-governance within 24 months.
''The quicker a board of trustees can demonstrate it is able
to return to full self-governance, addressing the problems
that led to the intervention, the quicker the intervention is
If a school had real difficulty meeting the cost of an LSM,
the ministry would pay some or all of the cost.
She said the ministry was paying for LSMs at 12 schools in
New Zealand at present, including one at Te Kura Kaupapa
Maori o Otepoti in Dunedin.
''There are more than 2000 primary and intermediate schools
in New Zealand, and currently there are 45 at which limited
statutory managers have been appointed.''