Judith Collins says public school leaders in New Plymouth are outraged over the Government’s approval of funding for the private Green School in Taranaki.
Nearly $12 million in funding was approved by Associate Finance Minister James Shaw for the school, which has shocked many across party lines.
Mr Shaw has apologised to Green Party members for signing off on the funding, and was working to find a solution. Education Minister Chris Hipkins has refused to defend the project, and said he would not have prioritised funding for the elite school.
Mr Shaw today apologised for approving the grant, and said it should be converted to a loan.
National Party leader Ms Collins says if there is a contract between the Government and the school then they should "cancel everything now on it".
National’s leader visited New Plymouth yesterday to meet with public school heads and says the message was clear.
“We met with Marfell School principal and the chair of the board, plus the headmaster of New Plymouth Boys’ High School," she told reporters at Parliament today.
“What was really clear, is the absolute anger amongst the school principals and school communities about the $11.7 million that has been promised by the Government to this thing called a green school.”
She says many of the schools are suffering from a deficit of infrastructure, particularly Marfell, a decile one school.
“The principal spends four out of five days a week trying to fundraise. They have no extra money from parents because the parents don't have any extra money at all.
"They’re absolutely reliant on essentially community trusts - particularly pokie funds to be able to buy anything for their school."
She says the schools did not expect the Government to approve such funding when they are in need.
“They’re looking at this green private school and wondering what is going on with the Government.
“We will be prosecuting this issue today with the Government.”
It follows National's education announcement yesterday, promising $4.8 billion for education infrastructure if elected in October.