Call to correct the billion dollar public school funding gap

The Victorian Greens are calling on state and federal governments to close an annual funding gap of nearly $ 1 billion to help public schools in the pandemic.

Greens for Education spokesperson and Prahran member Sam Hibbins wrote to federal and state education ministers Alan Tudge and James Merlino urging them to bring schools to the funding level recommended by the Gonski review, the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS).

Greens MP Sam Hibbins.

An independent parliamentary budget commissioned by the Greens showed it would cost $ 6 billion over seven years to bring public schools to full funding.

Public schools currently receive around 95% of the recommended standard, while the cost report shows Catholic and independent schools receive on top of theirs by around $ 90 million each year.

“It is time for our state and federal governments to reconsider their school funding agreement, which has left billions of dollars for public schools in short supply, overfunded private schools and some of the least funded Victorian schools in the country,” Mr. Hibbins.

He said the money could be used for a range of improvements, including hiring more school staff and increasing teachers’ salaries, providing mental health support programs for students and lower costs for parents.

State governments and the federal government signed the current funding agreement in 2019 after a long battle in which Mr. Merlino pressured then Education Minister Dan Tehan to it contributes more. At the time, Mr Merlino said the deal unfairly treated Victorian public schools.

Mr Hibbins said public schools have always deserved the full allowance and after the coronavirus upheaval the need is even more urgent.

“Given the two extraordinary years that we have been through and the significant impact of the pandemic on schools, teachers and families, the time has come to revisit this agreement and invest more in schools to bring them the support they need, ”he said.

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