Tuesday, January 25, 2011

AUSTRALIA: INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS CHARGED WITH NEW LEVY

CATH NEWS REPORT: Average-sized new independent school in Western Sydney, which will make it harder for non-profit groups to build schools, reports the Daily Telegraph.

Church groups and other non-profit organisations will pay $810,000 in a special infrastructure levy for an average 3ha school site. The levies are paid up-front and are a condition of development approval.

Western Sydney Catholic Diocese chief financial officer, Bernard Ryall, said future school plans would need to be examined. "We usually like a level playing field. We will need to take advice and have a look at the impact for plans in the growth corridors," he said.

Government schools and TAFEs will be exempt from the charge, which applies to developments in the designated "growth centres" in Blacktown, Campbelltown, Camden, Liverpool, the Hills and Hawkesbury council areas.


Similar levies to be introduced in the Hunter and the Illawarra would force not-for-profit groups to pay similar levies to build independent schools, said Aaron Gadiel from the Urban Taskforce.After a review, Planning Minister Tony Kelly yesterday revealed the results in the Friday afternoon government gazette.

"These schools are run mostly by church groups - these are not-for-profit groups. It will be harder for them to raise the money to get the school to start with," Mr Gadiel said.

"They have other charges and now they have got to pay $800,000, it will reduce access to education. It is a nonsense."

In other school news, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that a mini-baby boom between 2004-08, which coincided with the introduction of the $3000 baby bonus, will result in a spike in kindergarten enrolments this year.

Catholic schools in Sydney are expecting an extra 1000 enrolments this year, 400 of them in kindergarten.

Mark Rix, a spokesman, said enrolments rose from 63,000 to 64,000 last year. ''The expectation is for them to rise to 65,000 for 2011,'' he said. ''It is likely the baby bonus will have played some part in the enrolment increase.

''Three schools are putting on one extra kindergarten class this year.''

The national fertility rate rose from 1.78 babies per woman in 2004, when 254,246 babies were born, to 1.9 in 2008, when 296,621 babies were born.

http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=24803

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