School galas raise more than ever

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More than $200,000 has been raised by local schools during the spring gala season, money to spend on “extras” that are not funded by the Ministry of Education.

The funds to provide extra experiences and resources for students have been labelled “crucial” and “imperative” by our region’s principals, and they say the money needed to run their schools successfully comes laregly from the generous community around them.

The Nelson area has hosted around seven school galas, with St Josephs School raising a total of $29,000 for their twilight gala held earlier this month, and principal Mike Burton says the success of the school gala is paramount to the school’s day to day running.

The school gala is the biggest and only major fundraising event for most schools says Mike and while the government touts free education the reality is most schools would only just get by on the government operational grant.

“It barely covers what is needed to run a school. Education is an expensive business. I think our community recognises this as they are always incredibly generous to schools in the region.”

Enner Glynn school also did well out of their school gala with principal Isaac Day saying it saw an increase in money raised on last year and the $26,500 will go towards funding a new school playground.

He agrees that schools heavily rely on the school gala to see them over the line with funding. “The school gala is crucial to our school, we have a terrific community and we really appreciate the generosity.”

Isaac puts the success of the gala down to the large involvement of parents, supporters and students of the school.

Auckland Point School raised $13,000 from it’s gala and Stoke School raised $10,000. Auckland Point principal Sonya Hockley says it was their major fundraiser for the year, and that in order to keep up with changing technologies, fund fun and safety compliant play equipment and subsidise school trips, the gala was an imperative event on the school calendar.

The funding supplied by the government could run the school if it was careful she says, but in the struggle to enhance learning and provide tools for “21st century learners”, they relied heavily on outside sources to raise the funds needed.

The school board has recently decided to shift the time of year the gala is held to ease the pressure off “kind and generous businesses” that sponsor the school galas, with the spring time events often falling around the same time each year.

Hampden St School took in around $21,000 profit from their event last year, and held their twilight gala on Friday night,  and although the final figures from Friday aren’t yet known. Principal Don McLean says the turnout of around 3000 people looked promising and would mean that planned redevelopment of senior classrooms can go ahead. He says the gala is always a well organised and looked forward to event.

As the principal’s association Nelson chairman Don says it is fantastic that schools can fundraise themselves through galas, with community support, enough money to pay for new ICT equipment, upgrades to infrastructure and in one case, partially pay a teacher’s salary.

“These enable schools to get the extra iPads, the extra programmes for children in classes, extra library books and all. We’re pretty lucky in Nelson, they’re well supported by their communities.”

Don attended a conference in Auckland last week where he visited some schools that do not fundraise at all. “Two of them didn’t do any. That’s none. In Nelson I guess it’s that provincial New Zealand type view that schools are the hearts of communities.”

Nelson Christian Academy raised $9000 from their debut gala held back in September and principal Chris George says that the school achieved a fantastic amount of support through sponsors, parents and the community to “continue offering the great curriculum that we have here.”

Birchwood Primary hold their gala every couple of years and Nayland Primary hold other community events instead of a gala.

Officially, Appleby School has raised more money than any school in the Nelson and Tasman region making a record $41,000 from its four hour long annual country fair.

Wakefield School and Upper Moutere raised more than $25,000 each and Hope School raised $33,000.