Catholic schools are appealing to the Commonwealth for a boost in capital grants to help provide for an expected surge in enrolments in the coming decade. Source: The Australian.
Fresh from a bruising but ultimately successful battle that secured a $4.1 billion increase to recurrent funding, the National Catholic Education Commission has turned lobbying efforts to the growing need for capital to refurbish and expand existing schools and establish new ones.
In Victoria alone, the Catholic system estimates it will have to spend $2.2 billion to meet capital needs between now and 2022, while in fast-growing western Sydney that figure is about $1 billion over 10 years.
In Western Australia, Catholic schools’ capital works budget for this year and next has been oversubscribed by $35 million already.
Schools, through building levies and other fundraising, currently meet about 90 per cent of those costs. Last year, the Catholic sector spent $1.13 billon on existing schools, with the federal Government providing $150.9m in grants that were shared with independent schools.
In its pre-budget submission to the government, the NCEC cites enrolment projections across the nation that will put further pressure on school budgets. It singles out advice from the NSW Education Department claiming 7200 new classrooms will be needed to meet demand in the state by 2031.
“Given the increased need for schools, parents and families at Catholic schools will be placed under significant pressure to increase their contributions to the increasing cost of capital works and self-funded new school infrastructure,” the submission says. “This pressure will be particularly felt in low socio-economic areas.
“Students at Catholic schools and their parents and families are entitled to support.
“The NCEC proposes that in this federal budget, the Australian government not only increase the pool of funds available under the act for capital but also review the capital funding program.”
NCEC executive director Jacinta Collins said the important issue of the capital funding requirements of schools had been sidelined in the long-running debate on recurrent funding.
Catholic schools reignite funds war (The Australian)