13 June 2017     No. 05-17
[open as pdf]

State Budget

The 2017/18 State Budget offers long term vision and immediate security for state schools.

Today, Treasurer Curtis Pitt delivered the Palaszczuk government’s third budget. The government claims a record $9.8 billion for education, a 6.4% increase on last year.

While the funding figures are welcomed by the QTU, it is very much in the details that the most promising news can be found. In delivering this budget, the Palaszczuk government has provided a clear vision for the future, with commitments to employ more teachers to cover enrolment growth and put downward pressure on class sizes, build new schools and expand on existing ones, and provide dedicated, centrally funded IT support.

The commitment to I4S funding alleviates much of the stress and uncertainty schools will be experiencing due to the lack of certainty around federal funding. With this budget, the state government has made good on its election promises, and beyond.

Investing 4 Success (I4S)

Schools are no doubt already starting to plan for next year, but with the current federal funding model up in the air, they do not currently have any certainty around what their funding will look like for the start of the 2018 school year.

In today’s budget announcement, the state government has provided security to schools and school leaders by continuing to provide $246 million in annual I4S funding. This commitment not only maintains current I4S modelling, but also factors in enrolment growth and indexation at 3.56 per cent.

This is welcome news for all state schools across Queensland. School leaders are now in a position to make decisions for next year with certainty. Decisions can now be made confidently on the continuation of additional programs, and the staffing of these programs, well before the end of the school year.

Centrally funded IT support

Dedicated IT support has been a challenge and stressor for schools and teachers for a long time and has been acknowledged as a key issue for teachers and principals by Education Minister, Kate Jones.

From 2018, the government will allocate $138.6 million over four years for dedicated IT support in Queensland state schools.

The announcement frees schools to redirect resources previously required to self-fund IT support and maintenance to other programs. This is a significant win for QTU members, as it has been part of QTU budget submissions since 2012.

Extra teachers

The government announced it would employ more than 1,150 teachers and teacher-aides in 2018.

This will cover: enrolment growth; commitments to an extra 275 teachers this year to put downward pressure on class sizes; and 230 FTEs over 2018 and 2019 for the transition toward six full cohorts in secondary schools.

The rollout of full-time teacher-aides for prep will also be completed.

Infrastructure

A total of $765 million in state school infrastructure spending was announced. In contrast to the selling-off of state schools by the previous state government, this includes building new schools and expanding some existing sites and reflects a welcome future-focused approach.

Prior to the Budget, the state government announced a $500 million “Building Future Schools” fund which will be used to identify and acquire land for the establishment of schools in growth areas around the state. This will include two new high schools in Brisbane.
There will also be an expansion of West End State School to meet the demands of a growing Brisbane population.

This announcement provides a proactive plan to meet the needs of Brisbane and Queensland in the future, while also easing some of the pressures on schools today.

Housing

This budget has also provided a significant boost in spending on teacher accommodation across the state.

Funding has been allocated for new housing and maintenance and upgrades and improvements to existing housing. For example, $16.972 million has been assigned to upgrading government employee housing in 2017/18. Of the 2004 residences identified for upgrade and improvements, 1138 are DET housing.

TAFE

While the schools funding package was positive, TAFE funding for 2017/18 is similar to the funding provided in the last budget – around $1.1 billion. Included in the budget announcement was the continued commitment to $240 million over four years for Skilling Queenslanders for Work.

In summary

The overall budget package was good news for state schools in Queensland. This state government has backed up its rhetoric on education with effective and considered funding and plans.

This Budget has a lot of detail that schools, schools leaders, teachers and parents should happily receive.

The QTU will continue to analyse budget documents and receive briefings from DET: updates will be posted on the QTU website over coming days.

More information on TAFE funding in particular will be sought from the government.


 Authorised by Graham Moloney, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union



QTU President Kevin Bates addresses the media following the State Budget announcement