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New Zealand Educational Institute Te Riu Roa (NZEI) Kaihautu and national executive member Fiona Matapo, of Dunedin, said resource teachers, including Maori, learning and behaviour, speech, literacy and school staff support services teachers from the University of Otago College of Education, could be forced to travel to remote schools less frequently because government funding is inadequate.
Resource teachers in Otago were already organising schools into travel "clusters", but this measure could result in teachers spending less time at the schools as they tried to fit more visits in each trip, she said.
Earlier this year, resource teachers, who were members of the NZEI, accepted a collective agreement when petrol costs were below $2 a litre.
"We did not have a crystal ball then. We would strongly urge the Government to come to the table and establish a working party to review the amount we are reimbursed.
The alternative is to wait for another three years until our agreements is renegotiated, and that could be a long time if [fuel costs] keep rising."
Mrs Matapo travelled between 50km and 450km each week to teach Maori language at Otago schools.
Alternative teaching methods, such as video conferencing, were more impersonal, and may be less successful when teaching learning and behaviour classes, she said.
The Resource Teachers Learning and Behaviour Association (RTLB) is running a "Running on Empty" campaign, and encouraging members to petition the Government to increase the rate of reimbursement for NZEI members who use private cars for work purposes.
In 1999, when (91 octane) petrol was about 82c a litre, resources teachers received 56c per km travelled.
This rose to 58c per km in 2001 (when petrol was 96c a litre) and has stayed at that rate.
NZEI is New Zealand's largest education union, with more than 46,000 members working as teachers and support staff in primary, area and secondary schools and early childhood centres, specialist education services and colleges of education.