Funding fiasco as schools wind down

Local public schools have been through a funding fiasco as the school year draws to an end.

Last week schools were shocked when the Coalition Government reneged on an election promise to honour funding agreements between the former Labor Government and state governments of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT.

Then on Monday, Coalition education minister Christopher Pyne did an about face and reconfirmed the dollars, throwing back in $1.2billion withdrawn by Labor when the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia governments chose not to sign up.

However the funding, totalling $2.8billion, will now be delivered over a shorter four year period rather than six as originally announced.

The majority of the dollars were to be held until years five and six of the original plan.

The turmoil has had a disruptive impact on end of year planning for schools, with Eden’s primary and secondary school principals already in the midst of adjusting to the cessation of the Smarter Schools National Schools Partnership, a two-year, $720 million program that made Eden Marine High School a Centre of Excellence and delivered “huge” resources for the region.

Eden Marine High School principal Ian Moorehead said the transition phase would provide challenges until the Coalition finalised its figures.

Under the previous agreement, the school would receive $138,907.

Eden Public was slated to receive $200,609, Towamba $23,611, Pambula $21,344 and Wyndham $2040.

“We’re still working on the figures based on the (State Government’s) resource allocation model. It’s a lot less than we are getting with National Partnerships which was huge, but we always knew that that was finishing at the end of the year,” he said.

“But everything else is up for conjecture now.”

The disarray has had a deeper impact on the nation’s 1000 public schools, including Merimbula Public School, who are in stage one of the former Labor Government’s Empowering Local Schools Program.

The seven year $475.5 million dollar program was designed to increase school’s power and ability to make administrative decisions.

“It’s a huge challenge, particularly for schools who have been involved with the empowering Local Schools Program, 229 NSW schools who are already trailing some of the new modules for the new system,” he said.

“It’s also impacted on leadership in schools with principals being away getting information and professional learning – it’s going to be challenging.”

Eden Public School principal John Davidson is “reasonably confident” his funding of $200,000 will come through.

“My planning is in place for next year, the issue for us is what we do in 2015,” he said.

“We have our first draft of staffing and classes for 2014, enrolments may be a little down but I should be able to maintain existing staffing levels.”

Member for Eden Monaro Dr Peter Hendy could not confirm the dollars for local schools but said his government would deliver “on our election commitments”.

“Under the Coalition Government’s plan no school will be worse off as a result of any action of the Commonwealth Government,” he told The Magnet on Tuesday.

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