Save Our Schools today accused the ACT Government of perpetrating a financial scam in closing schools and cutting teachers. SOS spokesman, Trevor Cobbold, said that the revised Budget surplus of $117 million for 2006-07 demonstrates Government duplicity or gross incompetence in its education cuts.
“The school closure program and the teacher cuts are a financial scam of mammoth proportions or a case of scandalous government incompetence.
“The Government has cut 60 teachers from government secondary schools and is closing 23 schools because it said that the ACT faced an $80 million deficit in 2006-07 and a further large deficit in 2007-08.
“Yet, today the Treasurer announced that the Budget surplus for 2006-7 was $117 million – a turnaround of nearly $200 million from the original estimate. It is beyond comprehension that the Government could get this so completely wrong.”
Mr. Cobbold said that the cuts to teachers and schools have undermined public education and imposed more costs on families.
“The teacher cuts are disastrous for schools and students, with 35 teachers cut from high schools and 25 from colleges. They have reduced student access to teachers. Teachers have less time to provide learning and welfare support for individual students and less time to communicate with parents about student progress.
“Many families have lost access to a local school and they have lost the choice of attending a small school. The school closure program is forcing over 2000 students to travel longer distances to school and many face increased traffic safety risks. Families are experiencing major disruption and increased transport costs.
“All this is happening because of a financial scam or government incompetence.”
Mr. Cobbold also criticised the Government for failing to honour its election promises on high school improvement.
“The Stanhope Government has reneged on its election commitment to increase expenditure on high schools by over $12 million and to employ additional staff. Its excuse of the poor state of ACT finances is now clearly exposed as false.
“The Government should immediately implement its election commitments for high school improvement. It should use part of its ongoing Budget surplus to introduce a comprehensive high school improvement plan and restore the teaching cuts to high schools and colleges.”