Spare us planned police fee: schools

Patrick Walsh
Patrick Walsh
New Zealand principals will make a plea to Education Minister Hekia Parata this week for schools to be exempted from the proposed cost recovery of police vetting.

New Zealand Police announced late last year they would consider charging for some services, such as vetting, which have historically been free.

A consultation paper has been released asking for feedback on charging for vetting services, on which the public has until March 5 to make a submission. A recommendation will then go to the Government.

Otago Secondary Principals' Association president Brent Russell said there were increasing concerns about the financial implications of the proposal for school budgets.

He said schools were required to vet every employee that was not a trained teacher, including contractors, international homestay families or anyone who provided extracurricular activity with pupils on a regular basis - such as coaches and cultural group leaders.

''Over the course of a year, their would be a significant number of vets applied for.''

With vetting costing between $5 and $7 per application, Mr Russell said it was not going to ''break the bank'', but believed any additional money spent on vetting was money that should be spent on pupils or resources.

''It would be an added cost we could do without.''

Some principals believe it would be a considerable drain on schools' with already stretched operational grants.

It is an issue concerning many principals around the country, so the Secondary Principals' Association of New Zealand (SPANZ) plans to discuss the issue with Education Minister Hekia Parata.

SPANZ president Patrick Walsh said police vetting was ''clearly a public good'', which sat outside any educational requirement.

''It should therefore be paid directly by the Government, exempting schools.''

As an alternative, he said operational grants should be increased to match the cost, although he conceded it would be an unnecessary administrative burden.

''This proposal is yet another example of the Government increasing compliance or passing on an extra cost to schools without any additional increase in our operational grant.''

While some exemptions would be considered, police proposed a fee of $5-$7 per vetting request for a standard vetting request, and an estimated $10-$14 for an urgent request.

Of a projected 435,000 vetting requests per annum, police said an estimated 350,000 could be charged.


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