Country schools to feel pain of budget

Griffith Teachers Association president Melina Ragusa.

Griffith Teachers Association president Melina Ragusa.

LOCAL students will miss out on historic increases to school funding after the federal government left NSW schools $1.2 billion worse off. 

Minister for Education and Member for Murrumbidgee Adrian Piccoli has been one of the strongest advocates of the Gonski funding model and now fears Griffith schools will miss out on vital funds after 2017. 

Mr Piccoli was passionate about the scheme because of the loadings for disadvantaged and country students, now set to disappear. 

“This is particularly disappointing for regional areas as the very reason we signed up was because it benefits country schools the most as they have been historically underfunded,” Mr Piccoli said. 

“I’ve always been the strongest supporter out of all the education ministers in Australia, because I’m the only one with a regional electorate. 

“It won’t affect local schools for the next couple of years but schools like Wade High, which has been granted an extra $50,000 this year, they’ll miss further opportunities down the track.

“The NSW government is committed to the dollars ($1.76 billion) for the next six years and we’ll continue to argue very hard with the commonwealth for their contribution to the fifth and sixth years as well.”

Griffith Teachers Association president Melina Ragusa was devastated the treasurer was gutting Gonski in the years when the most money was expected to flow to public schools. 

“As a teacher I am devastated having seen all this research showing we’re way behind other countries in education and on top of that Griffith will be one of the areas worst off from the budget.

“Piccoli wanted to bridge the gap between rural and city kids and that is going to be very hard without the federal funding.

“There are also programs being slashed that helped 17-year-olds into the workforce if they leave school early but now those kids will stay at home and possibly never work.” 

Ms Ragusa said students were stressed about their futures because university fees will become increasingly expensive under a new unregulated system. 

“I have very stressed kids, without me saying anything, who are wondering if their parents are going to be able to afford to send them to university.”

A further $240 million will be slashed from NSW education funding according to Treasury figures, which includes an $8.5 million national partnership program for training places for single parents.

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