Echuca College to lose $600,000

May 19, 2017

Students from Echuca-Moama high schools.

PUBLIC schools in Echuca will miss out on up to $600,000 during the next two years after Canberra walked away from its Gonski commitments.

The analysis from the Victorian Education Department, released earlier this month, shows most schools in the region will miss out on at least $100,000 in needs-based funding.

High schools will be most affected, with Cohuna Secondary College predicted to gain up to $300,000 less than the original Gonski model, while Echuca College is forecast to cop a shortfall of $600,000.

The Federal Government unveiled a funding package earlier this month which will invest $18.6 billion in education in the next 10 years.

But the Opposition and various state governments claim this is billions of dollars short of the money schools were in line to receive under Gonski, which has two years remaining.

According to the analysis, Echuca East Primary School will miss out on $200,000 under the new funding model.

Principal Lyn Strachan said it would be more difficult for the school to supply teachers to help struggling students.

‘‘It absolutely restricts our ability to differentiate the curriculum right down to the needs of the individual child, which is what we try to do all the time,’’ she said.

‘‘The progress of some children with greater needs is often slower, so we need the intervention to help those children progress.’’

In recent months the Riverine Herald has reported on funding discrepancies between public and private schools in the Echuca-Moama region.

A breakdown of combined Federal and state government funding shows independent and Catholic schools tend to receive more money per student than similar public schools nearby.

In 2015, St Joseph’s College received $12,483 per student in government funding, while Echuca College received $11,836 per student.

But St Joseph’s College principal Michael Delaney said funding was a complex issue and the new funding arrangements would involve ‘‘significant cuts’’ to Catholic schools.

‘‘Other issues which need to be considered include things such as parents of children in Catholic schools also have to carry the major part of the financial burden of capital development of our schools, the purchase of land for the provision of schools growth, among a range of other items that are funded differently between the systems,’’ he said.

In his weekly newsletter to parents, Mr Delaney said the school placed a strong emphasis on maintaining low fees to make the school affordable.

‘‘In fact, school fees at St Joseph’s are among the lowest of any Catholic secondary school in Victoria,’’ he wrote.

Mr Delaney did not respond to a question from the Riv asking if school fees — currently $3050 per year — could rise to cover any shortfalls under the new funding structure.

On top of receiving more funding per student from governments, data shows private schools in Echuca-Moama also gain significantly more money through other sources — including fees, charges and parent contributions.

In 2015, St Joseph’s College received $3012 per student in non-government income, while Echuca College received just $879.

In local primary schools, St Mary’s Echuca received $1765 per student, while Echuca East received $747 per student.

Mrs Strachan said her school had a limited capacity to fundraise, which increased the gap with other schools.

‘‘We’ve tried a couple of times to put on (events), say, bigger than a sausage sizzle, bigger than a pie drive ... but we have to cancel them because we can’t even get enough people to buy tickets,’’ she said.

‘‘The more advantaged schools that are currently getting more money have also got the families and community behind them which can further fundraise.

‘‘So the advantaged become more advantaged.’’

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