Parents at a Red Hill Catholic school say they're willing do whatever it takes to stop the school from closing as the ACT Education Minister denies the territory is to blame.
The St Bede's Primary School community has banded together to find ways for the school to stay open amid a drop in government funding and low enrolments.
Education Minister Yvette Berry said it was disappointing and disingenuous for the director of Catholic Education in Canberra and Goulburn Ross Fox to blame the ACT government for the school's situation.
"The ACT government funds all schools according to the Gonski needs-based funding model that supports equity and inclusion in all schools and ensures that all students have access to the supports they need," Ms Berry said.
"This funding and the federal government's share as the major funder is provided to the Catholic Education Office.
"Catholic Education then decides how this funding is allocated to individual schools, including St Bede's."
Mr Fox said the parent populations at Catholic schools in the territory were almost identical to the populations of public schools and the government was cutting funding to meet an arbitrary model.
"The ACT is a distinctive jurisdiction where non-government schools and Catholic schools have long history of educating students and contributing to the community," he said.
"It's disappointing that ACT government would cut funding in the way it is."
Monica Kyburz said it would be very distressing to have to move her three children to another school.
"We were as a whole community very shocked and blindsided because the announcement was made days before Easter, which is normally a time of celebration ," Mrs Kyburz said.
"The kids were very sad and very anxious, especially coming off the back of COVID lockdowns last year."
Catholic Education Canberra Goulburn office told parents they would need to fork out fees of up to $15,000 by 2029 for the school to stay viable.
It follows a change in the method used to calculate how much government funding each non-government school is allocated based on the median income of parents.
When asked if parents were willing to pay more for school fees, Mrs Kyburz said all options would be considered.
"Catholic Education is meeting with our board today and we've been very cooperative with Catholic Education. We're bringing a lot of ideas to the table.
"We are a small school but we're big community. And we're very committed to doing whatever it takes to secure the future of our school."
Mr Fox said the archdiocese was committed to providing affordable Catholic education with modest fees but that was being challenged by the new funding model.
"No child should be denied a Catholic education because of an inability to pay.
"The complexity is that funding model has made it difficult under certain circumstances like at St Bede's."
Mrs Kyburz said her children started at a large public school but she decided to move them to the single-stream Catholic school.
"We've also got a very nice private school down the road but we chose this school because it's smaller," she said.
"The community is so supportive, it became a place where kids could really flourish academically but also socially."
A final call on the future of St Bede's will be made by the end of May.
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