Education dept unable to meet 3% cuts

24/03/2009 - 15:18

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The state education department says it will not meet its 3 per cent budget cuts amid an influx of new students, teacher shortages and a forecast deficit of $50 million.

Education dept unable to meet 3% cuts

The state education department says it will not meet its 3 per cent budget cuts amid an influx of new students, teacher shortages and a forecast deficit of $50 million.

Giving evidence to the Estimates and Financial Operations Committee, Director General of Education Sharyn O'Neill, said the economic downturn, coupled with the effects of a predicted increase of 5500 new students by 2010, was placing great pressure on the department.

Ms O'Neill said only two new schools would be constructed next year and also predicted a shortfall of thousands of teachers by 2012-13 as the department struggled to meet the demands of growing student numbers.

Shadow Education Minister Michelle Roberts said it was clear teachers and support staff would be put under serious pressure as a result of the budget cuts.

"The added stress on over-worked teachers will only increase if measures are not taken to relieve some of this pressure," Mrs Roberts said.

"In the end children are the ones who will be penalised."

The government expected the education department to make savings of up to $46 million dollars this year, but Ms O'Neill said the department was only able to make savings of $29 million dollars and is expected to be over budget by $50 million dollars this year.

Ms O'Neill also confirmed there would be staff cutbacks and some contracts would not be renewed, with the bulk of job cuts coming from administration and operational services.

The cutbacks were part of the education department's overall strategy in meeting the demands of the Liberal-National Government's 3 per cent budget cuts.

Mrs Roberts said it was a shocking time to be cutting staff.

"This is an example of the unrealistic savings expected by the Government from core services that can only be met by shedding jobs," she said.

"Students will be the losers and will not get the quality education they deserve."

Other areas targeted for cuts included syllabus and curriculum development, computer literacy programs and renegotiating private security contracts for some schools.

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