Schools’ budget pain and gain claims

SECONDARY schools in Frankston and on the Mornington Peninsula are set to be shortchanged by millions of dollars in federal funding over the next two years, according to figures released by the Victorian Department of Education.

The schools are among 70 statewide slated to receive up to $1.1 million less in the short term than would have been the case under Better Schools funding, also known as the Gonski agreement since businessman David Gonski reviewed schools funding for both the previous Labor and current Coalition federal governments.

A “Gonski 2.0” funding agreement officially announced in last Tuesday’s federal budget by Treasurer Scott Morrison will see public schools receive more money over ten years but effectively less upfront than was originally proposed in the next two years.

A Victorian Education Department analysis instigated by Labor state government ministers shows 1535 state schools will receive less in 2018 and 2019 than under the old funding plan, which still had a year to run.

Principals at a handful of schools called for comment last week did not respond about the state department’s figures that show over the next two years:

  • Mornington Secondary College will be $1.2 million worse off;
  • Rosebud Secondary College $800,000-$900,000;
  • Frankston High School $1.2 million;
  • Western Port Secondary College $500,000;
  • Dromana Secondary College $1-$1.1 million;
  • Mount Eliza Secondary College $400,000-$500,000

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino said it was “laughable that Malcolm Turnbull is still trying to pass [the budget] off as a positive story for Victorian schools”.

“The fact is it leaves a $630 million shortfall for Victorian schools against the original agreement,” he said.

“This is more than just a number. It has a direct impact and hurts the kids that need it the most and can least afford it.

“We funded our share of the agreement for 2018 in our recent state budget because it was the right thing to do. It is really that simple.”

But, despite the possible short-term pain, federal Dunkley Liberal MP Chris Crewther said schools were set to benefit with a total increase in federal funding of $331 million over the next 10 years.

“Every school in Dunkley – all 51 of them – will have their funding secured and increased under our fairer, needs-based Gonski funding model,” Mr Crewther said.

“Importantly, our increased funding will be tied to reforms that evidence shows make a real difference to supporting our teachers and schools to improve student outcomes.

“This is a fair system that is good for students, good for parents and good for teachers.”

Two high-profile politicians visited Dunkley in the wake of the federal budget. Liberal Treasurer Scott Morrison visited Mt Eliza on Friday (12 May) to spruik his second budget as treasurer and Labor opposition leader Bill Shorten hosted a community forum in Frankston on Saturday (13 May) to criticise the Coalition government’s federal budget.

First published in the Frankston Times – 15 May 2017

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