Queensland Catholic Education Commission Executive Director Mike Byrne says the Catholic sector has serious concerns about the Commonwealth Government’s decision to use the Consumer Price Index (CPI) as the basis for school funding indexation after 2017.
Mr Byrne said in the last decade the CPI has averaged less than 3%. This contrasts with Commonwealth funding increases, which reflect real costs in schools, of around 5.8%.
“Limiting the rate of school funding increases to the CPI will likely mean funding would not keep up with school costs,” he said.
“School funding must keep up with real school costs, including rising teacher salaries, access to new technologies that support learning and so on.
“Using CPI after 2017 is likely to force an increase in school fees and put pressure on the needs-based funding approach of Catholic education.
Mr Byrne said Catholic schools in Queensland receive about three quarters of their funding directly from the Commonwealth Government.
“If funding fails to keep pace with true costs, the fee increases needed to cover the shortfall could put a Catholic education out of reach for some families,” he said.
“School funding arrangements for Catholic schools for 2018 and beyond will need careful consideration.
“The review of Commonwealth funding indexation scheduled to begin this year will be an important starting point.
Mr Byrne said Catholic education welcomes the funding certainty for Catholic schools confirmed in the 2014-15 Federal Budget through to the end of the 2017 school year.
“This funding certainty is vital so that our schools can plan for the next three years and assist school and system leaders to focus on their core business of teaching and learning.
“In the context of this budget, the commitment to fully fund the Australian Education Act arrangements from 2014 to 2017 for all schools in all states and territories is appreciated.
“We will continue to work with the Government to achieve fair funding beyond 2017 that reflects the long-standing commitment to a needs-based funding approach and ensures funding keeps pace with real school costs.”
Mr Byrne said the Catholic sector particularly welcomed the $6.8 million allocated to support boarding schools which have large numbers of Indigenous students from remote areas.
“I also welcome the Government’s commitment to continue funding for the National School Chaplaincy Program until December 2018,” Mike Byrne said.