Wanganui Collegiate School has been in financial trouble, with not even annual fees of $9775 per day pupil and $19,775 for a boarder enough to keep it afloat. After Anne Tolley gave it $800,000 last year, the National Party’s Budget 2012 has given it another $3million over two years. Wanganui Collegiate has since boasted of its low class sizes in paid advertisements, a move which has upset some state schools in the area.
There are four other secondary schools in Wanganui. Wanganui City College, 63% of whose pupils are Maori, has 100 more students than decile 10 Collegiate. City College’s operating budget is $1million, two-thirds of the additional government grant to Collegiate, which comes on top of the fees. Besides lower class sizes, Collegiate is also now advertising that it can offer significant fee reductions, no doubt because of the taxpayer subsidy.
Wanganui Collegiate owns the old St George’s Preparatory School, and which is now closed and on the market with a valuation of $3.1million. I think Collegiate should give the $3million back to the taxpayer when it sells. Private schools will no doubt be using the current outrage over class sizes for recruiting purposes, but they should not be doing it with taxpayers’ money.