ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations have questioned the Government’s commitment to public schools in the Belconnen region which are at breaking point after the government announced it will spend $3.75 million to grow capacity at five private schools.
The ACT Government has allocated $3.75 million to upgrade infrastructure at Emmaus Christian School, Holy Family Primary School, St Thomas Aquinas Primary School, Taqwa School and Blue Gum Community School as part of its infrastructure grant program.
Emmaus Christian School has been allocated a $781,682 grant to assist with the relocation and upgrade of its Design Technology Centre, Gowries’s Holy Family Primary School will receive $582,816 to construct a two-classroom block while Blue Gum Community School has been allocated $500,000 to refurbish and extend two existing preschool classrooms.
Taqwa School in Spence will receive $885,502 for the construction of a new preschool building while St Thomas Aquinas Primary School in Charnwood has been given $1 million to assist with the construction of a new three-room early learning centre.
ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations executive officer Terry Sanders said there is a growing need for another primary school in Belconnen and believes increasing capacity at three Belconnen private schools will not abate the issue.
“The money that is being given to these schools is all well and good but the issue in the Belconnen area and most other areas in Canberra is the growing demand for more capacity in public schools,” Mr Sanders told Region Media.
“There is a growing need in the private sector but the public sector is the one that is growing the fastest. A lot of these schools are at capacity.
“The need for a new primary school in the Belconnen area has been identified and we need a boost in the Belconnen area. The majority of public funding should go towards public schools.
“We believe that any spare funding that is available should be going into putting in more public schools.”
During the 2016 election, the ACT Government committed to providing $15 million for infrastructure grant funding over four years for non-government schools, consistent with needs-based funding principles. The grant is on top of the ACT Government’s $85 million investment for public school infrastructure upgrades that were funded in the 2017 Budget.
ACT Education Minister Yvette Berry said applications were assessed with a focus on upgrades that increase capacity and amenity of schools and which improve accessibility to disadvantaged groups.
“These grants will provide support to non-government schools to increase capacity and improve facilities for the next generation of students in the ACT,” Ms Berry said.
“The ACT Government is committed to continuing to improve accessibility and quality of school facilities across the Territory to provide good educational outcomes to all students in the ACT.”