THE Catholic Bishop of Bathurst has weighed into a debate over education funding that is set to see drastic cuts to the Catholic system.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Saturday that Education Minister Adrian Piccoli was facing a backbench revolt over plans to cut $67 million in funding from Catholic and independent schools.
There are warnings the cuts will translate into fee increases of up to 10 per cent for every student in non-government schools in NSW, larger class sizes and the loss of hundreds of teaching jobs.
News of the cuts made its way to non-government schools last week and prompted the Catholic Education Commission to urge parents, principals, priests and teachers to contact MPs to decry what is being described as “the biggest threat to NSW Catholic schools in decades”.
And Bishop Michael McKenna has added his weight to the debate, urging the O’Farrell Government to drop the proposal.
Bishop McKenna said the cuts, if implemented, would see local Catholic school fees rise by hundreds of dollars every year.
“This impose immediate and unfair burdens on families,” Bishop McKenna said.
“It would inevitably lead many to move their children to public schools and such a drop in enrolments would have a devastating effect on the viability of our system and of individual schools.
“It would also put severe pressure on the public system, where the cost to the State Government per student is much greater.”
Bishop McKenna said it was extraordinary that a decision on funding cuts could be made so suddenly and without warning.
“School staffing levels and budgets need to be planned will ahead,” he said.
“I urge the Premier to pause and give some time to think through the consequences of this proposal.”