Budget 2018: Multi-million boost for special education
, Education Correspondent
Children with disabilities and complex needs will get the biggest boost from education funding in the government's
Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King
Special education would receive an extra $273 million over the next four years, the government announced.
About half - $136m - would pay for 1000 more children to access the ongoing resourcing scheme, which supports children
with the highest needs.
Schools and early childhood centres will also get an extra $1.6 billion over four years, but most of it is to cope with
population growth rather than pay for new initiatives.
Tertiary spending has received a $360m bump over the next year, but most of that would cover the cost of paying the
first year of students' fees as part of the previously-announced Fees-Free scheme.
The Budget provided no increase to tertiary institutions' subsidy rates.
Special education was the biggest single beneficiary from the education Budget.
As well as $136m for the ongoing resourcing scheme, teacher aide funding increased by $59m.
Another $30m has been allocated to provide more support to deaf and low-vision students.
The Budget provided $395m for capital spending on new schools and classrooms, including $62m for the ongoing rebuild of
Christchurch schools, and a further $63m in operating spending associated with the building programme.
Population growth accounts for the rest of the additional spending: $370m to cover the cost of 1500 extra teachers by
2021, and $129m for school operations grants, to cover costs such as support staff and power.
School operations grants increased 1.6 percent ,at a cost of $75 million over four years.
The Budget provided most early childhood services with their first across-the-board increase in government subsidies for
at least three years.
Home-based services faced a fourth year with no increase but the Budget sets aside $2.3m for possible increases after
that sector has been reviewed.
The 1.6 percent subsidy rise will cost the government $105m over the next four years.
It comes after nine years in which the previous government cut some subsidy rates altogether and provided no annual
inflation increases - or limited them to particular components of the subsidies.
A further $480m was allocated to meet growing enrolments.
Polytechnics and universities face belt-tightening after the Budget delivered no increase to their government subsidies.
The absence of any increase linked to inflation bore out National Party predictions that the government's spending on
students through its Fees-Free scheme would prevent it spending more on tertiary institutions.
Polytechnics, in particular, were hoping for a subsidy increase, because apart from a one percent increase last year,
the previous government provided no across-the-board increases to their subsidy rates for seven years.
Meanwhile, the Budget showed the first year of the zero-fees policy for the first year of study cost the government
The government expected to spend $355 million on the policy in the next financial year, the Budget showed.