Starv­ing Catholic schools a bad move

Alpine Observer - - Letters To The Editor -

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

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