Each board of trustees, in partnership with the Ministry of Education (the Ministry), shares responsibility for the management of school property. This relationship is recorded in the Property Occupancy Document (POD) which applies to all state schools. It is essentially a notification to schools recording who is responsible for what.
The Ministry website has extensive information available to support boards on property and information on housing matters. General advice is also available from the Governance Advisory and Support Centre.
New Education Housing Policy
In November 2003 the Ministry of Education released its new education housing policy. Outlined below are the main points of the policy of interest to boards.
- All current Principal housing will be retained as core stock, as will teacher housing in hard-to-staff areas.
- The Ministry intends to transfer ownership of all core housing to Boards by March 2003. They advise that the board will have no choice in this matter.
- Boards will be required to manage the property, except where they have either not managed housing previously or the rental income is less than $50 per week. In those cases boards can opt for Ministry management but are required to place all their houses under Ministry management and forgo the rental income.
- Housing will not be upgraded to any set standard prior to transfer (this applies to both core and non-core housing). Certain maintenance work will be carried out before transfer only if it meets Ministry criteria for "urgent" work.
- NZSTA has obtained a set of these criteria, and it is available by emailing the email@example.com.
- Any further maintenance work or capital upgrades required will become the responsibility of the board. No Ministry funding will be available for this.
- The Ministry will retain ownership of caretaker housing under existing arrangements.
- The Ministry is undertaking to address capacity and viability issues - that is - providing training for boards on managing school housing where needed.
- Schools with non-core housing that is currently either privately tenanted or vacant will be eligible for 40% of estimated net proceeds up front, if schools agree to the housing becoming available for release.
- The date for making the decision to release non-core housing was originally set for 15 December 2003.
- We now have the agreement of the Ministry that a reasonable opportunity must be provided to boards to make a considered decision. Provided that boards give an "expression of interest" to release by 15 December they will have until 29 February 2004 to confirm this decision.
- Schools have the option to purchase non-core housing at 50% of market price. Boards owning these properties are able to set rental for the property without regard to Ministry rates that apply to core and non core housing.
- Non-core housing consistently tenanted by teaching staff will be retained, as long as there is a need for it. Non-core housing that is tenanted by non-teaching staff or private tenants will be required to be released.
- Non-core housing not transferred to board ownership will continue to be managed by the Ministry until sold. About 93% of the non-core properties are currently pool houses which means no change in management. For the remaining 7%, which are currently school managed, these properties will transfer to the Ministry and consequently the maintenance element for the house(s) in the operating grants will cease.
- Rental reviews will be phased in for all current tenants from February 2004, over a period of three years.
- The new rental levels will apply in full to all new tenants.
- Rental will be based on both condition and location of house - not size - with houses of comparative condition in the same area. For teachers and principals the IRD has agreed that rental levels will be discounted 25% of this assessed market value. For caretakers the amount is 50%.
- The Ministry has resolved PAYE and tax liability issues with IRD for existing teachers and caretakers.
- There are tax liability issues for the board if they choose to rent core and non-core housing to non-teaching staff (e.g. cleaners, admin staff) at discounted rentals.
Network reviews and school housing
- Schools currently affected by network reviews will have rental increases, but all other actions (such as transfer of core housing) will be on hold until the outcomes of the review are known, and new boards are in place (where applicable). If boards are in other types of reviews or mergers then they may also apply to the Ministry to have matters placed on hold pending the outcome of the change process.
Provision of new housing will be at the Ministry's cost where needed, this will either be:
- where no Ministry housing currently exists, or there is not enough in terms of the availability of alternative rental accommodation within an area;
- and/or replacement housing, where it is no longer cost effective to maintain a current dwelling which is still needed as part of the core portfolio.
- The Ministry provide a help desk (0800 663 836) for any housing related queries.
- You can also call the Governance Advisory and Support Centre on 0800 782 435 if you would like to talk through the implications this policy may have for your board and school.
By the Ministry's own admission, the state of school housing around the country is variable.
The NZSTA is concerned that future capital costs will have to be met from board funds. This is a particular problem where boards have not had the opportunity to accumulate significant income from the rental and have to meet the shortfall by taking funds from supporting education needs.
In determining whether you want to "sell" existing stock you need to ensure that you have considered all the options available. Whilst you may provide an "expression of interest" this does not obligate you to proceed with the sale.
We urge you to check that the condition of the house(s) is in a good state of repair by working through the criteria provided by the Ministry. In addition it may be appropriate to obtain an independent assessment of the condition of the housing.
Health and Safety legislation provisions may also place the potential liability on Boards if accidents occur.
School Housing section links to the Ministry of Education website. It outlines the Ministry's purpose and main points of the policy.