THE state government will cut $1.7 billion from the education budget over the next four years, in a move that has disappointed local schools.
The Education Department will have to reduce its staff numbers by about 1800, including 600 positions through the realignment of state and regional offices.
Public teachers will be immune from the cuts.
The annual funding for non-government schools will be frozen at $960 million for four years from the start of next financial year, expected to deliver savings of $116 million.
Last week it was reported there were plans to slash $250 million a year, including $67 million to Catholic and independent schools.
Armidale diocese director of schools John Mula said the plan was better than Catholic schools were expecting following last week’s reports, but still disappointing.
Mr Mula said it was believed the government had listened to the concerns put forward since the first reports of funding cuts.
He said the capping of funding gave some surety but it would still put pressure on schools, especially as costs continued to rise, adding to a decrease in income over the four years.
Carinya Christian School principal Grahame Smith said it was worrying the decision had been made without consultation and at a time when schools had put in place plans for the following year.
Until more details emerged he could not comment on the impact on his school, but confirmed it would likely affect staffing and resources.
The Armidale School headmaster, Murray Guest, echoed Mr Smith’s concerns about the lack of consultation and the timing.
“Schools will be scrambling to find ways to accommodate the cuts,” Mr Guest said.
He said independent schools had tight budgets and had no excesses to absorb cuts to funding.
It would have a “significant impact” on his school’s budget, Mr Guest said.
TAFE NSW institutes will also have to make changes.
They will have to increase fees by 9.5 per cent and cut 800 jobs over the next four years.
The student concession fee will increase from $53 to $100 from January 1 next year.
TAFE New England Institute director Paul Callaghan said it was difficult to predict what response the public would have to the increased fees, but he hoped it wouldn’t have a major impact.
When it came to job cuts, he said the institute would look at where savings could be made elsewhere to prevent the loss of any positions.
But if savings could not be made in other areas, job losses might have to be considered.
NSW Teachers Federation TAFE organiser Kathy Nicholson said the decision meant people would not be able to do the course of their choice in the future.
She said before last year’s election politicians, including now-Education Minister Adrian Piccoli, pledged to “invest in TAFE”.
NSW Teachers Federation president Maurie Mulheron has slammed the government’s decision, saying it has “no commitment to supporting quality public education”.
He said it looked likely almost every school would see cuts to administrative staff.
Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said the government received $2.5 billion less in yearly revenue since it was elected.
He said the cost of delivering education and training grew by about 6 per cent each year, which had caused general expenses in the education portfolio to outstrip growth in government revenue.