Rototuna Junior High School principal Fraser Hill on the first floor of Rototuna High School.
Rototuna Junior High School principal Fraser Hill on the first floor of Rototuna High School.

So the government has built a brand new school called Rototuna Junior High school. As you all know Partnership schools also known as Charter schools are constantly attacked by teacher unions who claim they are too expensive. Since Rototuna is a brand new school let’s do a comparison.

…”One of the features of Ministry of Education new builds is they are all five ‘Green Star’ rating. We are the first school in New Zealand to have full LED lighting throughout the building. They are controlled by a computer which automatically dims the lights if sunlight lights the space up enough.”

There are solar panels on the roof, no topsoil is removed from the site, and grey water tanks distribute water run-off from the roofs.

Partnership schools do not usually have purpose built buildings but instead rent suitable buildings that they can afford.

…There are currently 642 students in the school, with more than 800 expected to be on the roll next year.

One of the possible issues facing the school was its involvement in the ‘bring your own device’ scheme, with some parents potentially finding it financially difficult to provide their children with a laptop or tablet.

But Mr Hill said this had not caused any issues, with entry-level devices coming in at about $330.

“We have done our best to make sure we provided a range of different pricing options and we’re flexible with the types of device students can bring. We prefer a laptop but because our learning management system is all in the Cloud it doesn’t matter too much which device students bring.”

The school also has some devices they can lend out if need be.

The three Auckland Charter schools I visited provided everything for the students. Technology, stationery and uniforms, even breakfast at one school. Charter schools get to choose what they spend their money on and the ones I saw chose to spend it on removing any barriers to student attendance.

A full industrial kitchen provides for food technology and, in time, Mr Hill said he hoped the school cafeteria, which is adjacent to the kitchen, would be able to be linked so children can help prepare school meals.

-Hamilton News

One of the Charter schools I visited had students preparing all of the food for the school cafeteria as well as serving the other students using a roster system.

There is one more thing we need to compare between Rototuna Junior High and New Zealand Charter schools:

  • Rototuna Junior High School with a full roll costs Ten Million dollars per 200 students.
  • Charter schools with a full roll cost approximately One Million dollars per 200 students.

That is a big difference and one that makes me wonder once again why teacher unions keep telling us that Charter schools are expensive. Setting up a Charter school is 1/10 of the cost of a state school like Rototuna.