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Overseas travel and repurposed donations: School spending exposed 27 minutes ago

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by December 18, 2017 General

The Auditor-General has highlighted school spending including overseas travel, a $7,000 staff party and gifts for principals including a ride-on mower and “wellbeing” payments.

Another school did not pass on $3700 collected specifically for Fiji flood victims.

The Office of the Auditor-General has today published the results of the 2016 school audits, and provided the same information to the Secretary for Education.

The vast majority of schools received standard audit reports, although 29 were judged to have serious financial difficulties, including Wanganui Collegiate School, St Patrick’s College Silverstream and Waiheke Primary School.

The Office of the Auditor-General’s auditors also learnt about several “relatively small” incidents of fraud where schools decided not to tell relevant enforcement agencies.

“The school often did not tell the Ministry about these either. In these instances, the employee paid back the amounts in question, and the school dismissed the employee. However, we are aware that some of these employees then moved to other schools.”

Today’s report highlights spending activity at some schools.

Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Hoani Waititi Marae sent 251 students, staff and caregivers to Rarotonga. After fundraising and family contributions, the school funded the shortfall of nearly $250,000 – which contributed to its deficit.

Manurewa West School paid for five staff to visit Kuala Lumpur in 2016 as part of a tour of schools in Singapore, and no evidence of educational outcomes was presented to the board for this part of the trip.

The same school made additional payments to its principal, without getting the required approval from the Ministry of Education. These included home broadband and telephone, “wellbeing payments”, and a “revitalisation and refreshment sabbatical grant”.

Blockhouse Bay Intermediate in 2016 spent $7000 on a farewell party and a $3000 leaving gift for the principal, exceeding the $1000 expenditure approved by the board.

The same year, the school did not pass on $3700 collected specifically for Fiji flood victims, instead using the money for school purposes.

Kingsford School last year gave its principal $10,000 worth of vouchers as a leaving gift. The same year Puhinui School board gave its principal an $8500 ride-on mower as a leaving gift.

Noting a large number of settlement payments by schools, the Office of the Auditor-General has recommended the Ministry of Education improve its guidance on the giving of gifts and settlement processes.

Audit reports for Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Te Kura Kokiri for 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 are still outstanding, the Office of the Auditor-General noted.

In 2012 the office found inadequate documentation around the payment of expenses, unusually high levels of fuel expenses, food and groceries and koha payments, and repairs and maintenance paid on cars not owned by the school. Sky TV subscriptions were also paid for by the school.

The Office of the Auditor-General also drew attention to financial difficulties in the audit reports of 29 schools for 2016. They included:

Bainesse School
Cambridge East School
Golden Bay High School
Herekino School
Kaitaia Abundant Life School
Kia Aroha College
Mangamuka School
Melville Intermediate
Ngaruawahia High School
Papatawa School
Pukepoto School
Rangiriri School
Rathkeale College
Solway School
St Joseph’s Catholic School (Matata)
St Joseph’s School (Grey Lynn)
St Matthew’s Collegiate
St Patrick’s College Silverstream
Te Kura Kaupapa Māori O Nga Mokopuna
Te Kura Kaupapa Māori O Ngati Rangi School
Te Kura O Ratana
View Road School
Waiheke Primary School
Waipahihi School
Wairarapa College
Wairau Intermediate School
Waitara Central School
Wanganui Collegiate School
Waverley Primary School

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