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SA Catholic and independent schools get $110 million boost

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The State Government has announced a $110 million funding boost for Catholic and independent schools over the next four years, bringing Labor’s pre-election education cash splash to more than $800 million.

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The Government says more than 90,000 school students will benefit from the funding increase, which brings South Australia into line with independent and Catholic school funding offered by other states.

A total of $44 million from the fund will be quarantined for infrastructure upgrades, while the rest of the money can be used at the schools’ discretion.

It follows the Government’s announcement last month that it would spend $692 million upgrading infrastructure at 91 public schools across SA.

Premier Jay Weatherill said the boost for Catholic and independent schools constituted a “massive investment in the future prosperity and wellbeing of our state”.

He told a press conference this morning that the funding was needed to compensate schools for the Federal Government reneging on the final two years of the Gillard Government’s Gonski school funding agreement.

“We’ll be taking our campaign to Canberra – we’ll be asking for the federal Liberal Government to restore that funding that was cut – $210 million over the next two years has been cut from the agreement,” he said.

SA Catholic Education Commission SA chair Dennis Ralph told reporters his sector was pleased by the announcement.

“We’re delighted at the benefits that will come to the 46,000 students in our Catholic schools spread across South Australia,” he said.

“The parents and the communities in our 103 schools will be very pleased indeed to receive this financial assistance so that we can build on the excellence and the quality that is in Catholic Schools.”

Association of Independent Schools SA chief executive Carolyn Grantskalns said the funding boost demonstrated the Government’s commitment “to the education of all students in South Australia and to parents’ right to choose the school that best fits their family values and aspirations”.

“The additional money will enable schools to support student learning and staff development even more effectively,” she said.

“The capital funding is very welcome and will enable schools to make improvements in infrastructure.”

SA Liberal Party education spokesperson John Gardner said the Labor Party had neglected independent and Catholic schools in Government, and pledged to match today’s funding commitment.

“Under the Weatherill Labor Government, state government support for South Australia’s non-government schools has fallen to the lowest level of all states and territories in the nation,” said Gardner, adding that he welcomed the funding boost.

“Today’s announcement highlights how much has been necessary to bridge the gap that has been allowed to develop between South Australia and other states.

“To enable schools to prepare for the future with confidence, we can confirm today that a Marshall Liberal Government will deliver all funding increases that the government has announced in the forward estimates.”

The Government is also committed to building four new schools, including the new Adelaide High School on Frome Road.

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