High school’s board backs hostel change


January 03, 2020 - 64 views

The Waitaki Boys’ High School board of trustees has endorsed a proposal for change at its cash-strapped hostel, Don House, chairwoman Andrea Ludemann has confirmed.

The Oamaru single-sex high school was the only southern school outside Dunedin reported by the Office of the Auditor-general to be in serious financial difficulty last year and in November the Otago Daily Times reported its hostel faced a $130,000 deficit and annual expenses, particularly for food ($118,500), kitchen labour ($116,000) and staff ($150,000), were expected to face reductions.

Staffing levels were proposed to drop from 2.0 full-time equivalent positions to 1.6.

Information sent to parents of Don House boys last month was provided to the ODT as well by Ms Ludemann.

Minor alterations from the initial proposal were made after feedback the board had received, she said.

‘‘The board appreciates your [parents’] patience in what has been a difficult time for all involved. If Don House is to remain a vital and vibrant aspect of Waitaki Boys’ as it is now, the importance of having a financially sustainable hostel cannot be understated. The board continues to monitor all aspects of Don House operations. It is the aim of the board and school management to be putting into place programmes that will grow Don House in the future,’’ her email said.

Ministry of Education sector enablement and support deputy secretary Katrina Casey said this week the 2020 provisional roll for Waitaki Boys’ was set at 384. The school’s Education Review Office report from January 2017 put the roll at 484.

The school’s 41 boarders brought in $450,000 last year, the majority of the $480,000 hostel income.

Hostel expenses were listed at $610,000.

In the 1960s, the school's hostel was the largest in New Zealand with about 350 boys living on campus.

The board of trustees, in place since 2019, is the first since 2014 after the end of a lengthy intervention at the school.

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