PARENTS of students at some Queensland Catholic schools are bracing for fee increases of almost 10 per cent next year – a direct result of the new Federal Government funding changes to schools.
About 30 Catholic schools run by religious institutes and incorporated bodies are the hardest hit because they are considered “over-funded” under the Government’s new Gonski 2.0 model.
They include Stuartholme School, Toowong, with a fee increase of seven per cent and Mt St Michael’s College, Ashgrove, with a 9.5 per cent increase.
“It’s a tough one for families,” Catholic Schools’ Parents and Friends Association executive director Carmel Nash said.
“For some parents it will take away the choice of schools, that’s for sure.
“But it has been imposed on us by the Federal Government and there’s not a lot we can do, at this point.”
The fee increases can be explained because under the Gonski 2.0 model those Catholic schools which are currently funded above their Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) will have their funding reduced over the next six years.
This is the case with many Catholic religious institution schools, which include Marist College Ashgrove; All Hallows’ School, Brisbane and St Rita’s College, Clayfield.
It also includes major Catholic schools in towns across Queensland.
“The real disadvantage to those schools is that independent schools in a similar position will have their funding reduced over ten years, making the impacts more manageable for those schools,” Queensland Catholic Education Commission executive director Dr Lee-Anne Perry, who represents the Catholic sector on Gonski Review Panel, said.
“The Government has been unable to advance any reasonable arguments for the differential treatment of Catholic and independent schools in this way.
“The Government’s only suggestion is that systems like ours can distribute funding away from schools currently funded below their Schooling Resource Standard, which goes against the rationale for their own funding changes.
“Each affected Catholic school is making its own decisions about how best to manage the reduction in government funding according to its own circumstances.”
Mrs Nash said she knew affected schools were trying to implement “many things” including redundancies to try and reduce fee increases.
“When you are a stand-alone school the effects are much more pronounced than when you are part of a system,” she said.
Many Catholic schools across Queensland will receive increased funding under the new Gonski model, because their current funding falls below the SRS.
BCE schools will receive an increase, and have projected 2018 fee increases of only three per cent in line with increased operating costs.