Starving Catholic schools a bad move
EDUCATION Minister James Merlino’s talk last week of ‘a significant increase in parents actively choosing to send their children to government schools’ is an own goal – not something to boast about.
It’s fine for the State Government to talk about booming state school enrolments, but they are denying parents’ choice and crushing aspiration by starving Catholic schools of the support needed to meet demand, placing bigger burdens on government schools and taxpayers in the process.
The Catholic sector already takes a huge load off the budget.
We provide an education for more than 210,000 students - close to a quarter of the state’s schoolchildren - in Victoria’s second biggest school system.
If just 10 per cent of our students were forced into the state sector due to inadequate facilities, Treasurer Tim Pallas would need to find an additional $160 million every year.
In recurrent funding alone, every student in a Catholic school saves the taxpayer 75 per cent of the average cost of educating a student in a government school.
This amounts to some $7500 per student each year – or nearly $100,000 over the 13 years of each student’s school life.
The arbitrary capping of student numbers as a condition of a planning permit prohibits schools to respond to demand from the local community.
Starving our system is bad for the 100,000 families across the state with children at a Catholic school, bad for the taxpayer and bad for the public purse.
Our research indicates Catholic school enrolments could grow by up to a third if greater government capital support to construct the facilities needed to meet demand was available.
It would let us build on an established track record of making public money go a long way, with Catholic school communities already raising 80 per cent of every dollar they spend on capital works.
Starving our system has the opposite effect. Stephen Elder, Catholic Education Commission of Victoria executive director