The ACT Government has claimed that it is increasing per capita funding for government schools in 2008–09 by 8% in real terms (that is, adjusted for inflation) and total real funding by 6%, contrary to the figures provided in its own budget papers.
The claims are made in a paper selectively circulated by the Minister for Education, Andrew Barr, which purports to refute the analysis of the schools Budget published by Save Our Schools. Evidently, the Government has been stung by criticism of the Schools Budget by SOS.
The Minister’s claims are false. At best, there is no increase in real funding available for government schools in 2008-09. In fact, real funding is likely to decline. The mistakes in the paper reflect either deliberate misinformation or extraordinary ignorance about the Budget Papers.
The Minister’s claims are contrary to the figures reported in the Budget Papers. According to Budget Paper No. 4, current dollar funding for government schools (Government Payment for Outputs) will increase by 4.6% (p.360).
The CPI increase in Canberra for the year ending March 2008 was 4.6% and could well increase by more in the current year. This cost increase offsets the current dollar increase of 4.6%. Therefore, at best, there is no real increase in funding for government schools provided in the Budget.
If school costs increase faster than CPI, as is the case over the long term, then there will be a real decline in funding for government schools.
SOS challenges the Minister for Education to publicly substantiate his claim of an 8% increase in real funding per student.
The Minister’s criticisms of the SOS analysis of the Budget are completely mistaken. They either reflect deliberate misinformation about the SOS analysis or extraordinary ignorance about the Budget Papers.
The so-called productivity savings from reduced teacher numbers is actually a productivity decline because it will impact negatively on student achievement and development.
The funding for the 2nd appropriation initiatives are included in the Budget estimates for 2008-09 [Budget Paper No. 3, Table 4.2.12; Budget Paper No. 4, p.379-380]. SOS has not ignored these initiatives as claimed by the Minister.