As campaigning for next year’s State Election gathers momentum, Catholic Education South Australia has drawn attention to a range of key issues. They include an increase in the State Government’s recurrent funding for Catholic school students, $5.5 million in capital funding, financial relief for schools from the rising cost of utilities, and access to allied health services.
Last month Dr Neil McGoran, director of Catholic Education SA and Professor Denis Ralph, chair of the South Australian Commission for Catholic Schools, met with Premier Jay Weatherill and Minister for Education and Child Development Susan Close to discuss these matters. They also had a meeting with the Opposition Leader Steven Marshall.
“In both of those meetings we raised a range of issues that are of significant importance to the students, staff and families of Catholic Education SA,” said Dr McGoran.
“We are seeking definitive commitments from the Government, the Opposition and other parties so that people in our parishes and schools can make an informed choice when they vote in the State Election next year.”
Dr McGoran said securing a fairer funding model for Catholic schools was a priority.
On average, SA Catholic schools are funded by the State government (14 per cent), the Federal Government (54 per cent) and parent contributions via school fees (32 per cent).
“When compared to Catholic schools in other states and territories, the South Australian Government provides the lowest level of funding to each student in a Catholic school.
“With 46,000 students in Catholic schools across the State, the total shortfall for 2017 is approximately $15 million,” Dr McGoran said.
He added that Catholic schools also missed out on capital funding.
“Capital funding helps ensure we have quality facilities and learning spaces for our students. We know that some other state governments provide generous grants. We receive no capital funding from the State Government.”
CESA is seeking capital funding that is in line with the Commonwealth Government’s federal grants of $5.5 million a year. It is also asking that schools receive financial relief from the “growing burden” of rising utility costs, as well as access to allied health services.
“We all know that the increasing cost of household bills puts pressure on our personal budgets. It is no different for schools. Similarly, we want to ensure access to allied health services is equitable and based on student need.
“This is very important for our students and families and, indeed, for the wellbeing and prosperity of our State,” Dr McGoran said.
He urged parishioners to voice their concerns about school funding with their local MP.
“I appreciate that many parishioners are very connected to Catholic education and as such, I encourage them to join us in writing to their local MP and candidates in their electorate to express their views.”
More information about CESA’s campaign is available at www.cesa.catholic.edu.au/news/fair-funding-campaign.
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