Show us the money


Show us the money

Rob Higgins: the LPS principal believes his school would be millions of dollars better off if the State Government signs up to a federal funding proposal.

LEONGATHA Primary School could be millions of dollars better off if the State Government signs up to the National Plan for School Improvement, principal Rob Higgins believes.

The funding plan comes in light of the 2010 Gonski education review, which advocated for higher school funding.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has given the states until June 30 to accept her “two for one” school funding plan – under which the Commonwealth will give $2 in school funding for every $1 the state Premiers agree to pay.

Only New South Wales has so far signed on.

LPS’s 2013 budget shows students are funded to an average of about $5880. The total school budget is $3.8 million, but Mr Higgins believes it could rise to about $5.1 million – or $9000 per student – if the State Government embraces the plan.

Another local principal made similar back-of-the envelope predictions. But others, unconvinced that the Commonwealth and states can come together on a plan, have not even bothered to crunch the numbers. “Playing politics,” was the constant term used by principals in relation to Federal and State wrangling on the issue.

All the principals who spoke to The Star said they lacked reliable figures from government departments about what the potential benefit of the Commonwealth largesse could mean. However, all believed it would benefit government schools.

Mr Higgins said too many children were struggling, particularly with speech impediments, because schools did not have the money and resources to help as much as they’d like.

“The question I’d pull to the politicians is, ‘Can you justify our schools missing out on the funding to buy speech therapists, to buy occupational therapists – plus the extra staff to support the programs? Is it really worth the risk of missing out on it?’” he said.

“When my kids reject something I always ask, ‘What’s the alternative? What do we do instead?’ Maybe we need to ask the same question of the pollies.

“Victoria can’t miss out. It’s our kids who will miss out. I’m not Liberal, Labor, State, Federal. I’m basically just Leongatha. I know that the state likes to control education. But the little kid in Prep doesn’t care where the money comes from, they care about the teacher in front of them and that’s what we need to provide.”

State Education Minister Martin Dixon, who spoke to The Star in Leongatha recently, said the New South Wales deal was “very different” to what Victoria had been offered.

“The offer we’ve been given is nowhere near as attractive. We’ve got a lot of questions about what we’ve been offered and so we’re talking to the Federal Government about that,” he said.

“It’s got to be affordable for us and it can’t disadvantage any school student in Victoria. We don’t want more control of education to fall to Canberra either, because it’s a state responsibility.”
Mr Dixon could not say whether a deal might be done “before, during or after” June 30.

“We’ll see how open they are to the discussions we’re having,” he said.

A federal education department spokesman said “no school will lose a dollar under our proposed new funding arrangements”.

“Sticking with the current funding system could see schools miss out on $5.4 billion by 2018. In Victoria, this would mean a loss of $572,000 for every school, and around $1,489 for every student, on average,” he said.

“There are two reasons for this. The National Partnerships the Government has put in place were always for fixed periods and are due to conclude soon. National Partnership funding will be rolled into the additional investment for jurisdictions that sign up to our plan.

“For those who do not participate, their National Partnership funding will continue until it expires and won’t be renewed. If Victoria signs up, it will benefit from an extra $4 billion in public funding – bringing total public funding for the state to $68 billion.”

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Posted by on May 7 2013. Filed under Community, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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