Alarm at education funding cut

GOVERNMENT and independent school representatives around Penrith have slammed the state government's announced cut of $1.7 billion in education funding.

However, all said that regardless of what happens, the schools would endeavour to provide the best education they could.

Penrith state MP Stuart Ayres defended the government's cuts, stating NSW was facing a $780 million deficit and $5 billion less in GST revenue over the next four years.

He blamed the previous Labor government's economic management for the situation.

"Without [cutting spending] we can't deliver good quality services and social outcomes," he said.

"No teachers will lose their jobs but about 1000 jobs in the educational bureaucracy will go."

He said this would free up money for direct spending in schools and make departments more efficient.

He also said private school funding would be capped at existing levels for the next four years.

Penrith Anglican College headmaster Barry Roots said that was better than reducing funding but the overall cuts in education would still affect private and public schools.

"But we will not let fees rise more than they have to," he said.

"We'll endeavour in any way to keep fee increases resulting from funding caps to a minimum."

The NSW Secondary Principals Council deputy president, Chris Presland, said whatever the budget deficit was, cutting education would diminish the state's long-term prosperity.

"A $1.7 billion cut is massive and so is pulling out 1000 staff from department offices who support our schools," Mr Presland said.

"But the public school system has been able to deliver quality education on a shoestring budget; that challenge will be the same.

"Teachers will never turn their backs on the kids but there'll be increased pressure on schools to deliver."

He said arguments about budget deficits reflected the choices governments made.

"Within a limited budget you make choices about what is more important," Mr Presland said.

"This government has decided that infrastructure is more important than education."

Mr Roots said he also understood the government's need to reduce the budget deficit.

"They inherited a budget situation that was disastrous," he said.

"But we've just had the release of the Gonski report that said we needed to invest huge amounts of money in education.

"It seems counter-productive that the state government announces it's taking a huge amount of funding from education."

Mr Ayres said the Gonski report was commissioned by the federal government and it was up to that government to find the $5 billion funding recommended.

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