THE School Education Minister, Peter Garrett, says painstaking work to overhaul Australia's school funding arrangements continues, but it is far from clear the work will be finished this year.
The current school funding model expires at the end of 2013, meaning the government needs to introduce legislation this year to secure the new funding arrangements in time for the 2014 school year.
Mr Garrett told the Herald the government remained ''totally'' committed to reforming schools funding, but a ''series of technical questions'' about how that could be achieved remained.
And, he said, the $5 billion price tag attached to the reforms was ''an estimated figure'', with the government yet to commit to a funding model.
In February, a review panel led by businessman David Gonski released the most wide-ranging review into schools funding in 39 years. The panel recommended the government inject an annual $5 billion in extra funding across the government, Catholic and independent school sectors to reverse entrenched disadvantage - particularly in government schools.
All schools would receive a base funding rate, with extra money flowing to schools with high numbers of disadvantaged students.
''That [$5 billion] was Mr Gonski's estimated figure, and it should be seen as an estimated figure,'' Mr Garrett said.
''We need to look at a model once [stakeholders have] agreed [on one] and once we have a final government position that we want to take out to people.''
On Sunday, the Australian Education Union released commissioned research showing 88 per cent of respondents believed there was an ''urgent need'' to increase public school funding.
But Mr Garrett cautioned that the work may not be ready to allow him to introduce legislation by the end of the year. This could mean the current funding model would have to be extended year by year.
''It's important that it be done thoroughly and deliberately, and it's important that we basically work through any outstanding issues that both school sectors at the government level and the independent sectors would have,'' he said.
''Then, it's a question of having a look at what the resource implications are, one way or the other. The Gonski figure gets bandied around but … what we've said is that no school loses a single dollar as a consequence of any future modelling.''
Mr Garrett said the government had extended private school funding to 2013-14 to guarantee certainty while the reforms are thrashed out. It could do the same for government schools.
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