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Critics bash $30.2m Local Schools Community Fund as applications open

Schools can now apply for funding of between $1,000 and $20,000 towards a project that improves their school but the Australian Education Union labels it a “funding stunt”. 

According to the government, project proposals will be assessed on the benefit they would bring to the school community. Minister for Education Dan Tehan has said there will be an available funding pool of up to $200,000 for schools in each of Australia’s 151 electorates.

However, Australian Education Union Federal President Correna Haythorpe said the one-off $200,000 grant per electorate for libraries, classrooms and play equipment to be shared amongst all school sectors, is little more than insulting.

“Compared to the billions of dollars Mr Morrison has handed out in grants to private schools, it’s insulting,” she said in a statement.

Ms Haythorpe said that while public schools might get a one-off payment worth a few thousand dollars from the Local Schools Community Fund, over three hundred private schools have already been allocated substantial capital grants worth an average $1 million each over the last two years.

“The Morrison Government’s Local Schools Community Fund just doesn’t measure up. Guidelines say that schools are eligible for grants of up to $20,000 but there is no indication of how this will be split between school sectors.”

“If the fund is allocated according to school enrolments, each school could receive a one off $3158, which is only $7.77 per student. If the fund is split evenly between public, private and Catholic schools, each sector would get $10 million from the fund, meaning a potential one off payment of $1490 for each of the 6711 public schools in the country. By comparison, the Morrison Government’s existing $1.9 billion private schools capital works fund provides each of Australia’s 2832 non-government schools with a possible $670,000 over a decade.”

Tehan has claimed: “We will increase funding for all primary and secondary schools across all sectors by an average of 62 per ent per student.

“The Local Schools Community Fund is additional funding that builds on our investment by allowing individual schools to nominate their own projects that will make the biggest difference to their school community.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for local schools to apply for funding for projects that are on their wish list. This could range from the installation of cutting edge computer facilities, additional targeted student support, to sporting facilities and equipment, or small-scale building extensions.”

Schools can lodge one application for each of their campuses and use SchoolsHUB – https://schools.education.gov.au/ to apply. Applications close on 30 September 2019 and projects must be completed by the end of 2020.

Committees will be established by local Members of Parliament in every electorate in Australia to independently assess each application from schools within their electorate. The Local Schools Community Fund is open to all schools but eligibility conditions will apply.

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