Parramatta and Granville electrates lose school funding

Broken promises: Opposition education spokesman Jihad Dib and Granville MP Julia Finn are voices for public schools hit by funding cuts. Picture: Geoff Jones

Broken promises: Opposition education spokesman Jihad Dib and Granville MP Julia Finn are voices for public schools hit by funding cuts. Picture: Geoff Jones

The report card doesn’t look good for school funding under the federal government’s new Gonski reforms.

Funding to almost all NSW public schools will be cut, according to figures obtained under Freedom of Information laws released by the NSW Teachers Federation.

The Parramatta state electorate will lose $9.3 million in school funding over the next two years and $12.8 million in the Granville electorate.

Jihad Dib and Julia Finn discuss school funding cuts

Among the biggest losers are Holroyd High School ($2.2 million), Arthur Phillip High ($2 million), Westmead Public ($1.5 million), Merrylands High School ($1.2 million) and Granville Boys High School ($1.1 million).

Opposition education spokesman Jihad Dib and Granville MP Julia Finn visited Holroyd High School on Monday. “This school in particular does amazing things with Gonski funding,” Ms Finn said.

“This is a school that transforms lives. Some students come here not able to speak a word of English and a few years later, they start uni.”

Mr Dib added:

“It changes school planning as principals believed this money was coming. The question is, who is going to pick up the shortfall?”

State Education Minister Rob Stokes welcomed the federal government’s commitment to needs-based, sector-blind funding and believes it may provide long term certainty. “It is disappointing the increased funding remains $1.8 billion short of our current agreement with the Australian government. However, when compared to the Abbott government’s 2014 budget, NSW schools will be $1.4 billion better off over the next four years,” Mr Stokes said.

“The NSW Government’s consistent advocacy for the National Education Reform Agreement (Gonski) on behalf of all NSW schools since 2013 has contributed to this improvement.”

Parramatta MP Geoff Lee added:  “As a past teacher, I understand that well-funded quality education is essential for our students and their future. Needs-based funding provides the best opportunity for every child to get the best education. Of 34 schools within the Parramatta electorate, the Federal Government’s online ‘School Funding Estimator’ indicates all schools will receive more funding next year and more funding over the next decade.”

Parramatta is also benefiting from record investment in school infrastructure.

“There is $200 million allocated to build the new state-of-the-art CBD vertical schools (completely transforming the old Arthur Phillip High and Parramatta Public Schools), $30 million for the new O’Connell Street School and $30 million for the expansion of Rosehill Public School,” Dr Lee said.

While department policy prevents public school principals from speaking publicly, the same doesn’t apply for Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta executive director Greg Whitby. While he supports a needs-based funding model, he criticised the lack of clarity in the government’s new model.

“The reason why Catholic education leaders have been speaking out so strongly in the past two weeks is because they need funding clarity and certainty to ensure the long-term viability of their schools. It is important to be clear here: systemic Catholic schools do not charge high fees. They are not wealthy schools. The reason that they are in a system is so that that resources can be shared and distributed to where they are most needed,” Mr Whitby said.

The recent release of the 'Funding Estimator' has created even more confusion. Within days of it being released, it has been discredited by leaders of both the NSW Government schools as well as Catholic systemic schools. The Government's decision to exclude systemic Catholic schools from the consultation process prior to the release of the proposed new model created further apprehension and suspicion.

I strongly support a needs-based funding model. Fundng should always be about equity. I have been clear on this since the original Gonski funding model was released by the Gillard Labor Government. The real issue here is the mechanism used to determine need - the Socio Economic Score (SES). SES is a blunt instrument that assesses a community's capacity to contribute to the funding of their school based on the suburb's SES. We need something that better measures need.

We will continue to advocate for a fair funding model for all systems. At the same time, we are conscious of the financial pressures that so many of our families are under. With this in mind, we have no desire to add to that pressure by increasing fees outside the normal annual CPI increases. We will be doing everything possible to avoid that.”

Mr Dib called on the state government to “fight tooth and nail” to ensure what was promised is delivered. “They need to make sure this agreement is honoured as there are people in the education system relying on it.”

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