CATHOLIC and independent school students could be slugged with higher fees following hefty funding cuts to the state education budget.
The Independent Education Union says funding will be slashed by $250 million each year over the next four years, including $67 million from Catholic and independent schools.
Schools will receive between $554 and $58 less per student.
According to the Diocese of Armidale, Catholic systemic schools stand to lose $24.5 million each year.
“With these cuts coming out of the blue, with teaching levels for 2013 already locked in, it will be hard to stop negative impacts
on our schools,” director of schools John Mula said.
“The local implications of these cuts may result in a loss of services to local Catholic systemic schools, or possible fee increases.”
Mr Mula said fees could rise by as much as $100 per student.
The state government provides 20 per cent of the annual income of Catholic schools.
Presbyterian Ladies College (PLC) Armidale head of school Debra Kelliher was only notified of the cuts yesterday afternoon.
She said the state government’s decision was “short-sighted” and could be challenging for independent schools, particularly those in regional areas.
The funding withdrawal could impact on student fees, resources and staffing at the school, but the details are not yet known.
The Armidale School could lose up to $180,000 from its yearly budget, according to headmaster Murray Guest.
He said the school would have to make adjustments and would aim to minimise impact on staff and students, but this would be difficult when such a hefty cut had been made without notice.
He condemned the government for making the decision without warning, consultation or regard for the impacts.
Carinya Christian School principal Grahame Smith told The Leader there would definitely be an impact, but the full extent was not yet known.
He confirmed it would make a “significant difference” to the school’s income, which would most likely flow on to resources or staffing.
Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said “no decision has been made about how savings will be achieved in the education portfolio”, but the department would not comment further.
The news came as education ministers started negotiating the introduction of the Gonski model and where the recommended extra $6.5 billion a year in funding would be sourced from.