Catholic schools have accused the Victorian Government of “starving” them of money for new buildings and upgrades as the non-government sector fights for funding ahead of the state election. Source: The Age.
The accusation came as the Opposition promised that supporting non-government schools to improve standards would be a “core value” of a Liberal-Nationals state Government.
Nine weeks out from the November poll, Catholic Education Commission of Victoria executive director Stephen Elder has urged Labor to renew a program that provides capital works funding for non-government schools.
“It’s fine for the state government to promote its own school sector, but they are denying parents' choice and crushing aspiration by starving Catholic schools of the capital works support needed to meet demand, placing bigger burdens on government schools and taxpayers in the process,” he said.
He said the Catholic sector could increase its enrolments by 30 per cent if it received additional capital support.
Labor announced ahead of the 2014 state election that it would spend $120 million on capital works at non-government schools over four years. Money was allocated to 92 schools but the program was not renewed in this year's state budget.
Both major parties will want to avoid an electoral backlash from the Catholic schools lobby, which has been fiercely campaigning against the federal Government’s Gonski 2.0 funding plan.
Education minister James Merlino said the Government was working with the non-government sector on future funding needs and would be making more education announcements in coming months.
“Non-government schools are an important part of Victoria’s education system, with more than one-third of Victorian students studying at Catholic or independent schools,” Mr Merlino said.
The Opposition’s education spokesman, Tim Smith, said the Coalition would reveal its capital works policy before the election.
“It will be a core value of a Liberal Nationals Government to support non-government schools to improve standards and outcomes for all students and that includes capital funding,” he said.