Cash delay costs schools


KEY school programs could be cut in Casey due to delays in the state government’s education funding announcements.
With Gonski funding details yet to be determined, a Berwick high school principal has called on the Victorian government to specify how much money each school in the state will receive in extra funding under its federal schools agreement.
Kambrya College principal Michael Muscat fears Victorian schools are unable to best prepare budgets and programs for 2014 because the state government hasn’t outlined exactly how much money each school stands to receive from the Gonski reforms.
New South Wales has already revealed to its schools how much money they will receive under its own Gonski funding agreement with the federal government, previously known as the Better Schools Plan under Labor.
Mr Muscat said he had no idea how much extra funding his school would receive.
“There are programs we’ve developed where we know what staffing is required and we know what professional development is needed but we can’t do it until we know what funding we’ll get,” Mr Muscat said.
“We’re only eight weeks away from starting the new year. In the meantime I have staff ready to employ but they’re looking for new jobs because I can’t guarantee them a position.
“I’m going to potentially lose good staff over this.”
Mr Muscat explained the extra funding at his school would be spent on intervention programs for students with low levels of literacy and numeracy, more resources for English as an additional language classes and accelerated learning classes for high achieving students.
Cranbourne Secondary College principal Ken Robinson also asked for transparency from the state government after his school finalised its indicative 2014 budget earlier this year.
Mr Robinson said without additional funding, his school’s welfare programs would ultimately suffer.
“We’re in an area, the City of Casey, where mental health problems are a significant issue.
“I currently have a wellbeing team at the school and I’m looking at trimming that budget,” he said.
“We need those people in schools.”
Under the federal government’s schools funding model, extra money has been guaranteed for four years, while Labor pledged six.
Berwick Lodge Primary School principal Henry Grossek said when Victoria signed onto Labor’s model, schools were aware that more of the funding would be received during the latter years of the agreement.
“While we’re eagerly looking forward to the funding, we were well aware more funding would be given in the fourth, fifth and sixth years of the deal (under Labor),” he said.
“Not an awful amount of money was expected in the first and second years anyway.”
Mr Grossek also said Victoria signed up to the Gonski agreement later than NSW and this could partially account for the delay in funding announcements.
A spokesperson for Education Minister Martin Dixon said a Student Resource Package Budget planner was provided to schools in October.
“This funding includes student-based funding, school-based funding, and targeted initiatives and is weighted to support children experiencing disadvantage or living with a disability,” the spokesperson said.
“These budgets include funding flowing under the $12.2 billion schools funding agreement between Victoria and the Commonwealth.
“Further announcements will be made relating to the schools funding reform agreement in the coming days.”