€500 million less for primary education next year: report
Due to a change in how the government finances primary schools, they will not receive 7 percent of their personnel costs in the 2022-2023 academic year. This once-off event involves a total of 500 million euros primary schools won't be receiving, NU.nl reports based on its own analysis.
Every school board receives an amount for personnel costs per school year. Since August 2006, schools have received part of this every month, but not the same amount every month. In the first five months of the school year - August to December - schools receive relatively less money, so too little. In the last seven months - January to July - they receive more to make up for the first five months. This was to ensure that there was always cash to pay teachers their holiday pay at the end of the school year.
That will change from 1 January 2023. Financing for primary education will become more straightforward, and from that date, schools will receive the same amount every month. This poses a problem for the 2022-2023 school year because schools will still receive a slightly lower amount in the first five months of that academic year. But that will not be made up in the first seven months of 2023.
The Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science told NU.nl that it is not true that schools will receive too little money next academic year. A spokesperson said that the Ministry will pay 100 percent of the amount that schools are entitled to in both 2022 and 2023. The amount that schools will receive in the first months of 2023 is indeed lower, "but in the later months of the year the amount they receive is higher than the year before," the Ministry said to ANP. "At the moment, schools allocate more income in the last five months of the calendar year than they actually receive. This adds up to 500 million euros."
Ronald Bloemers, a financial advisor at the association for public and general access schools VOS/ABB, and Niels Lansbergen, education accountant at Astrium, confirmed to NU.nl that schools would get less money in the coming school year. According to Lansbergen, the Ministry's calculation is incorrect. "If you look at the calendar year 2022, as the Ministry does, it seems as if the Ministry pays out the entire amount schools are entitled to in 2022. But then you forget that the Ministry still has to partially compensate for 2021 in 2022. Because in the last five months of 2021, as every year, schools received relatively less."
This change to the financing system will bring primary schools with little reserves in danger of financial problems, primary education council PO-Raad said to ANP. The PO-Raad is hesitant to call it a cutback, but according to a spokesperson for the organization, that does not mean that nothing is happening. "If you look at it from the Ministry, it is indeed an accounting matter, but for some schools, it is really a problem," said the spokesperson. "This is easy to absorb for schools that have a piggy bank, but there are schools that do not."
According to the PO-Raad spokesperson, the adjustment could lead to lower investments in some schools, such as the quality of education or better ventilation to prevent Covid-19 infections.