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Should parents be forced to pay school donations?

By Wendy Hoddinett, MSN NZ Money staff
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Should parents have to pay school donations? Image: Getty
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By MSN NZ Money staff

Are schools wrong to demand parents pay so-called "voluntary" fees?

Rathkeale College, in the North Island's Wairarapa region, made headlines yesterday when it was revealed the administration was pressuring solo mother Karen Bock to pay the college $13,000 in unpaid voluntary fees.

Ms Bock has said she has paid the college's compulsory $2000 fees but simply couldn’t afford to spend the money on the additional $1000-a-term donation to the school and she was upset at the school’s aggressive tactics.

"The school's whole approach has been one of intimidation and aggression," she told the Dominion Post.

The government has now weighed into the debate with Education Minister, Anne Tolley, ordering an inquiry into the school’s demand that the mother pay the fees.

Should a school donation be just that — voluntary and at the discretion of the parent — or should parents be expected to pay the donation? Have your say below.

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User comments
why is called a donation for if you cant have your own choice if you want to give it or not.. this is soo stupid they should stop asking parents for money. they already get money frm subject fees why should they be force to pay a donation. what if a parent has more than one child then. they would be paying more than 200 a year for a donation.. btw where do all the donation money go. probably in their salaries
Why call it a voluntary fee if its not voluntary to pay it??
I wouldnt send my kids to a school that is so dumb that they dont understand the meaning of the words 'donation' and 'voluntary'. Hello?! Tell the principle to look them up in a dictionary!
Schools get little money from the government to cover the basic costs of running quality education programmes. These monies do not go far and many schools rely on fundraising and their 'voluntary donations'. However, as society is changing and the demands to have both parents working is more common, these working parents do not generally have the extra time to put into fundraising. Therefore schools are putting more pressure on parents to pay these 'voluntary donations'. I am sure many of you would not like a bill sent home everytime a school has to buy materials for your child's class! Kids love 'fun learning activities' that are engaging but generally these 'fun learning activites' cost more than the traditional pen and paper ones. How about we put more pressure on the government to provide more monies into the education coffers.
I was in a similar situation a few years ago. I made the choice to send my son to a private school for his intermediate years. Earning a beginning teacher's salary of approximately $34,000 back then, I did struggle to pay the $13,000 each year. However, it is possible! I spent hours at the local council, accessing information regarding trusts and charities for funding - and worked hard preparing letters to these. I was successful in getting two grants in my son's first year. I reiterate that it was my choice to send him there and I would never, under any circumstances, have enrolled him if I had not intended to pay all of the monies (including the 'donation' part) in full. My heart goes out to this woman's son, who must be feeling very embarrassed by his mother's display. There are good state schools, there are other funding options. She needs to role model responsibility.
I have 2 grandaughters in my fulltime care. .I pay the school donations because I cannot be involved in fundraising and activites on a regular basis at both schools. My grandaughters need my quality time 24 7 and I worked it out to be cheaper for me to pay the donation,rather than running up extra costs going here there everywhere.Family time is very important to us and so is learning time, paying school donations helps us with our budget. They go to a state school and I'm very happy..
This lady went into this school knowing there would be fees. Why not send her child to Wairarapa College (which is just as good, but not a catholic school) which does not have these high fees? And how come she can still pay for her daughters education at ST Matthews? Rathkeale and St Matts are integrated High Schools, so they do not receive the same amount of funding as a Public High school would, hence why they need to charge fees. If you do not want to pay for an education (but as by previous comments, have a brand new vehicle) then send your children to the public school. Wairarapa College is an excellent school,so cant be used as the excuse that rathekeale is the only good High School.
Hi, It is not uncommon for the schools to demand families to pay the donation. For me, it is a donation and if a family cannot afford to pay it , they should not be made to feel guilty so they can pay the school donation. This principle shoould apply to all schools whether private or state. My concern is that students may get penalized for not paying the donation, like not being able to go on a school trip or represent the school in another event. This is what happened to me. My son could not go and represent the school oversease until he paid something of his school fees. So I paid what I could afford at the time $10.00. Even if this mum could pay something small towards the donation, the school would know that she is doing the best she could and she would feel better that she is contributing in some small way. Maybe she could volunteer to assist the school in other ways such as coaching, or any other involvement , this would work well as a trade. Time for $! Just a suggestion. Ta
I can see both sides of this argument, but i have to say that she is fully within her right to deny them payment. If these "schools" need the money to keep functioning, then they should issue FEES, and BILLS not DONATION REQUESTS. The definition of DONATION, as given by the dictionary is, "an act or instance of presenting something as a gift". Now last time I checked, a gift is an unconditional item. Not something that is required. I have no problem with these schools requiring lage amounts of money, but I do have a problem with them calling it a DONATION.
I have sent all my children though the public school system and I can say that when it comes to fees, if you have the money then by all means pay. But if you are not in a position to pay then you should not be made too. What does the goverment give our tax money to the Education System for......There are funds held at every school to help with families that cannot pay. At the school my child goes to they have just double the fees from 12.50 a term to 30.00 a term I am not in a position to pay that much so there for it is a VOLUNTARY Fee so I will not be paying. I work and pay Taxes Too. Our school still sends out invoices with our fees on it and they still ask for you to pay every term, I have told our head of staff that I cannot pay but they still keep sending it, this should not be allowed at all.It causes STRESS on the parents of today.