A Canberra private school that received a $4 million donation should be stripped of its ACT government funding, the public school teachers' union says.
The Australian Education Union ACT branch council carried a resolution on November 21 noting the donation to Radford College for a new indoor cricket centre and calling on the ACT government to withdraw funding for the school.
The resolution calls on the territory government to "withdraw ACT government funding to Radford College; and use that money to invest in an indoor sports facility for students in public schools, with a focus on students from disadvantaged backgrounds and/or upgrade public school playing fields on a needs basis."
Radford College principal Fiona Godfrey said the resolution irresponsibly distorted the truth about the school's funding in an attempt to mislead the public.
"The union is also well aware that the college receives a relatively small percentage of its revenue from the ACT government, and that percentage has been steadily reducing since funding reforms were announced in 2017," Ms Godfrey said.
She said Radford College would receive 6.5 per cent of its revenue from the ACT government in 2021, dropping to 3.37 per cent in 2021.
The college is in line to receive $3.2 million from the territory in 2021, which will be reduced by 47 per cent to $1.683 million in 2023. The federal government will contribute $8,375,706 in 2021, dropping to $8,006,731 by 2023.
However, this recurrent funding is for education expenses, such as teacher salaries and general school running costs, and cannot be used for capital works.
"The suggestion that independent schools pay for capital works programs through government funding is factually incorrect," Ms Godfrey said.
"Put simply they don't, and they can't. There are strict rules on the use of government recurrent funding to independent schools, it cannot be used for capital works."
Ms Godfrey said students attending non-government schools delivered savings to government budgets.
"If every non-government school in the ACT shut their doors and forced their students into government schools, the budgetary implications would be huge," Ms Godfrey said.
Education Minister Yvette Berry said the ACT government had an obligation to fund Radford College in line with the school resource standard (SRS) .
Under federal legislation, the territory government is responsible for funding 20 per cent of the SRS for non-government schools and the federal government funds the remaining 80 per cent.
"Currently, the ACT government funds some non-government schools, including Radford, above its 20 per cent share of the SRS, and the Commonwealth government also funds some non-government schools, including Radford, above their 80 per cent share of the SRS," Ms Berry said.
"The government began transitioning schools to their relative share of the SRS in 2019."
Radford College does not currently receive Australian government funding through the Capital Works Program.
Earlier this month the Boorer family went public with their $4 million donation to their children's school. The donation will go towards upgrades to sporting facilities, including building an indoor cricket centre, a new multi-function hall, six outdoor courts with lights and spectator seating, change rooms, toilets, storage and carparking.
The Independent Education Union NSW/ACT branch secretary Mark Northam said the independent school teachers' union had always supported needs-based education funding.
"The kind donation to Radford College sits outside public funding and the school is very fortunate to receive it," he said.
Ms Berry said communities and businesses sometimes supported public schools through donations but it was generally small amounts of money.
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