THE State Government's $1.7 billion cut in education spending will cause further damage to an already weak Clarence Valley economy claim teachers and unions.
And Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis agrees with them, although he is forced to sell the Government's story that the cuts are necessary to balance the budget.
But Mr Gulaptis said he will try to get some exemption for Grafton TAFE from the projected job cuts because of the current position in the region following the Grafton Jail restructure.
"With some of my colleagues we're working on ways of looking at regional TAFE a little bit differently," he said.
But the overtures have not gone far with the group yet to meet with NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli.
Mr Gulaptis said the minister had kept news of the proposed cuts away from him and other backbenchers.
Although the Catholic Schools have won a minor concession from the Government, McAuley Catholic College principal Leon Walsh said he fears a further contraction at his school, with some par- ents unable to afford a 10% to 12% fee rise.
"It will be a gamebreaker for some people but it's too early to predict a pattern," Mr Walsh said.
North Coast TAFE organiser for the Teachers Federation Kathy Nicholson said the Government might delay on Grafton because of the community's stance on the jail.
But she is worried an assault on fine arts might lead eventually to Grafton TAFE's music studio.
"If they're attacking fine arts, then it's not too far a jump to the music studio."
Mid North Coast Teachers Federation organiser Wayne Webber said the cuts are the opposite of the Gonski Report recommendations.
"Gonski requires expenditure of $6.5 billion to achieve the education outcomes the country needs," Mr Webber said.
"The State Government wants to cut $1.7 billion.
"It shows the Government is driven by ideological rather than educational motives."
Mr Webber said the union will meet on Tuesday to discuss further action.
Chris Gulaptis - Fought against the cuts in the party room and is investigating ways to give regional TAFE colleges special consideration. He claims government backbenchers were kept in the dark until Education Minister Adrian Piccoli's announcement.
Wayne Webber - Mid North Coast representative says the cuts represent an ideological position that has nothing to do with education theory. He claims attempts to privatise education in Victoria have already been rorted.
Kathy Nicholson - She is worried the attack on the fine arts courses in TAFE could eventually lead to the axing of the music department at Grafton TAFE.
Leon Walsh - McAuley Catholic College principal says some families will not be able to afford the 10% to 12% increase in fees the school will need to charge. He says school enrolments are already contracting because of job losses at the Telstra Call Centre and Grafton Abattoirs.