Queensland Catholic Education welcomes $60m Budget boost

The Queensland Catholic Education Commission has welcomed the State Government's announcement of an additional $100 million in funding for capital projects for the non-government schools sector to be spent over the next five years.

"This funding boost is welcome recognition that the cost of providing and maintaining quality educational facilities continues to escalate," the Commission Executive Director, Mike Byrne said.

"The additional funds will help us improve school facilities, cater for refurbishment and expansion in many existing schools and meet demand for new schools in growth areas of the state."

Mr Byrne said the Commission would prioritise funding the removal of asbestos from all schools as well as evaluate completing air-conditioning of classrooms in the eligible zone in the north of the state.

Mr Byrne said Catholic education expected to receive approximately $60 million as its share of the increased funding.

Meanwhile, The Age reports that Victoria's Catholic Education Commission is considering a plan to restructure the school years to bring it in line with the public system.

Schools in the Catholic system currently schedule their own term dates, which can result in siblings at different schools finishing the year weeks apart.

But under a policy drafted by the state's Commission, all would have to provide at least 194 days of instruction each year for students in the compulsory years of school.

The draft policy also caps student-free days at six a year, bringing Catholic schools in line with the public sector, where the school year averages 200 days.

Fr Brendan Reed, deputy director of the schools division at the Catholic Education Office of Melbourne, said the policy was designed to maximise learning.

"We do respect the tradition of schools making these decisions at the local level, but there are wider accountabilities such as funding and parental expectations," he said.

The Victorian Parents Council, representing parents of Catholic students, welcomed a standardisation of term dates.

"From a parent's perspective, it means less stress and financial outlay organising day care, holiday programs and time off work," said the council's executive officer, Jo Silver.

But groups representing Catholic school staff say they are concerned by any moves to reduce flexibility.

The commission expects to implement the policy from 2008.

Pictured: Mike Byrne

Catholic Education Welcomes $60 million Funding Boost (Queensland Catholic Education Commission 6/6/06)
New terms of learning for Catholic schools (The Age 7/6/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Queensland Catholic Education Commission
Catholic Education Commission Victoria

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7 Jun 2006