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The Government’s recent school infrastructure announcement excludes State Integrated Schools which they believe breaches their agreement with the Crown, National’s Education Spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.

“Education Minister Chris Hipkins has said State Integrated Schools can use attendance dues to modernise or upgrade their buildings. Mr Hipkins clearly doesn’t understand his own Government’s responsibilities. Attendance dues are used for the payment down of debt to get the buildings to a state standard. The Crown has accepted the obligation to maintain Integrated School premises in a state of repair comparable to a state school.

“The Integrated Schools have a clear case that if the Crown sees the need to increase maintenance funding for State Schools then the Government has an obligation to provide funding for State Integrated Schools, otherwise the Government is discriminating.

“The Minister needs to fix this mistake quickly, otherwise his Government is heading to Court and the Minister will have to defend what appears to be a clear breach of the agreement with the Crown.

“Associate Education Minister Jenny Salesa is reported to be having a crisis meeting with the Integrated Schools representatives tonight. Mr Hipkins needs to front up to this meeting and explain why he has potentially broken the agreement.

“But it’s no wonder Mr Hipkins is confused about the agreement given he’s delegated all responsibility for the relationship with the 330 schools to his Associate and hasn’t formally met with the Association of Integrated Schools.

“Mr Hipkins has a habit of rolling out flawed and unfair education policies. The donation scheme excluded a third of schools, the rollout of the learning support coordinator roles was deeply unfair, and this school infrastructure announcement may have broken a fundamental agreement with 330 schools representing 90,000 students.

“It’s time for the Minister to own up to his mistake in leaving Integrated Schools out of the policy change, otherwise his Government is heading to Court.”

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