Quigley critical of cuts

Butler MLA John Quigley said figures released by Education Department Director General Sharyn O’Neill showed schools in his electorate would receive $2.623 million less this financial year.

‘These aren’t reforms, they are simply cuts that will have a serious impact on Butler schools’ ability to deliver first-class education and give kids the best possible start in life,’ Mr Quigley said.

Education Minister Peter Collier said public schools were well-resourced and would continue to be so, with overall funding increasing by $300 million this year.

‘With growing demands on the system, we’re asking schools to tighten their belts with a reduction in some funding,’ he said.

‘Schools will have to review what they offer and how this can be done more efficiently.

‘While some programs may need to be reduced, the vast majority will remain and schools will continue to be committed to providing as much variety in programs as possible.

‘These changes may be challenging for some schools but principals are experts at managing their budgets and I’m confident they’ll be able to continue to ensure good educational outcomes for students.’

Mr Quigley said cuts included $2.3 million taken from the Aboriginal and Islander education officers (AIEO) program, meaning almost two fewer full-time equivalent staff across his electorate.

‘These officers ensure local Aboriginal children are given additional assistance and every opportunity to overcome any unique challenges,’ he said.

‘Existing AIEOs are already under enormous pressure and by removing them from schools, the Barnett Government is putting the futures of Aboriginal children in Butler at risk.’

Mr Collier said the current allocation of AIEOs used an out-dated formula with different levels of funding depending on the year level of the student.

‘This has been changed to a fairer model so that Aboriginal students receive the same level of support regardless of their year level,’ the minister said.

Mr Quigley provided the Weekender with data for each school, showing Yanchep District High would get a $400,313 cut this year and its student population would go from 875 in 2013 to 797 in 2014.

Figures showed Butler College’s student population would more than double in its second year, but would get a $132,675 cut.

Other schools with increasing student populations that would receive cuts included Clarkson, East Butler, Neerabup and Quinns Rocks primary schools.

Butler primary was expected to have fewer students next year, going from 1014 to 965, and its funding would drop by $309,270.

Mr Collier said teacher numbers would remain the same next year as this, so the department would use a new formula to allocate teachers. ‘This will result in an increase of less than half a student per teacher,’ he said.