Education to be targeted
By ALEX EASTON and BREE PRICE
WITH fewer than 100 students in its ranks, going home time at St Joseph's Catholic School at Coraki is a brief affair. But what St Joseph's lacks in size, Leonie, who asked her surname be withheld and whose three children attend the school, said it made up for through the dedication of its teachers. "It is a great little school...the quality of the staff is very good, and the school does really well with what they have, but extra funding would provide a lot," she said. Under the Federal Labor Party's new education policy, Leonie and St Joseph's could be in luck. Labor education spokeswoman Jenny Macklin has announced a plan to have a minimum funding level of $9000 per student per year at every primary school in the country and $12,000 per year for every secondary student by 2012. Under the policy, Labor would siphon government funds from elite private schools, such as the $17,000 per year Kings School in Sydney, to boost resources at struggling public and private schools. Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson warned the policy would disadvantage about 200,000 Australian families whose children went to private schools. But that argument wasn't cutting much ice on the Northern Rivers yesterday, where the NSW Teachers' Federation and the Independent Education Union said every school in the region would be better-off under the policy. And, having been identified by Catholic Education as one of the neediest Catholic schools in NSW, St Joseph's Coraki will be one of the first cabs off the rank. A spokesman for the Independent Education Union said St Joseph's, through State and Federal funding, school fees and fundraising, was presently funded to about $6200 per student per year. The story wasn't much better at the region's other primary schools, private and public, which averaged around $6500 per student. Local secondary schools came in between $9000 and $9500.