The NSW Government has announced it will triple its capital grants to the 944-strong private school sector to $500m over four years, the largest single increase ever provided.
Catholic Schools NSW (CSNSW) said the NSW Government’s capital funding boost gives the sector the certainty it needs to plan and meet its share of enrolment growth.
CSNSW chief executive officer, Dallas McInerney, said the Catholic education sector, with almost 600 schools, expects its share to be at least $75m per annum.
“All school children should learn in safe, comfortable and modern surroundings,” McInerney said.
“CSNSW supports the NSW Government’s $6bn, four-year capital funding program for the state’s 2200+ government schools.”
McInerney said CSNSW prioritises its capital funding from government to the Catholic schools in need and with the least ability to raise project funds themselves.
“This brings a focus to needy schools serving low socio-economic communities, schools in fast growing areas and schools with an urgent need for new or improved learning facilities.”
Catholic education has relied on parents and school communities to fund some 90% of capital works in NSW Catholic schools.
Last year, 41 NSW Catholic schools lodged funding applications for capital works worth $158m – but CSNSW could only partially support 24 projects because it only had $58m in State and Federal Government capital funding to distribute.
“To put that into context – $58m does not cover the cost of land and construction for a new K-12 school in outer suburban Sydney,” McInerney said.
McInerney said government funding has helped expand Catholic schools in growth areas such as Edmondson Park, Marsden Park, Austral and Medowie, just outside Newcastle as well as upgrade learning facilities in Nyngan, Oran Park and Port Macquarie.
“This is a great day for Catholic schooling in NSW; our parents and families considering a Catholic education for their children can have even more confidence in our sector,” he said.
Meanwhile, the peak body for parents with children in Catholic schools, the Council of Catholic School Parents (CCSP) welcomed the government’s pledge.
CCSP executive director, Peter Grace, said this commitment would go a long way towards easing some of the current financial stress on Catholic school parents to raise money over and above their school fees to build, upgrade and expand Catholic schools.
NSW Catholic schools educate more than 250,000 students and are currently planning for growth of almost 10,000 additional students over the next three years, which will require up to 11 new schools and the expansion of 41 existing schools.
“Until now, Catholic school parents in NSW have been wearing much of the financial burden when it comes to capital works in our schools,” Grace said.
“In fact, Catholic school parents fund some 90% of capital projects through levies and fundraising, and these contributions are in addition to their school fees.”