Schools lose excess disability cash

CLARENCE Valley schools will receive their full disability funding allocation for this year, but some schools will not be able to keep all of their leftover funds from last year.

Earlier this week, Member for Clarence Steve Cansdell claimed 22 public schools in the Clarence and Richmond valleys had lost $300,000 in disability funding for this year.

Mr Cansdell said freedom of information data revealed the State Government intended to take back almost $12 million in unspent funds.

He said South Grafton High was the worst affected school in the Clarence Valley, being down $35,000.

“Disability funding in schools is a matter of public importance,” he said.

“This decision will mean that schools across New South Wales will have less money to educate disabled students and children with special needs.”

State Education Minister Verity Firth hit back at Mr Cansdell's claims.

“No school has had its disability funding cut,” she said.

She said over the years, some schools had not spent their full allocation, leading to $79 million in unspent 'tied' funding sitting in school bank accounts.

'Tied' funding refers to money that needs to be spent on a particular project, or even a particular student.

Ms Firth said at the start of this year, if schools had a remaining balance greater than 10 per cent of their annual allocation, that money was taken into account when providing new money in 2009.

This means schools still received the amount promised to them for 2009, but the total amount of money would include the leftover funds from last year.

Mr Cansdell said deducting the leftover money from this year's allocated funds was, in effect, the same as cutting funding.

“That money is often put aside for major programs and extra care for new families,” he said.

“Schools are being penalised for budgeting funds for an emergency... you need to have some funding there in reserve.”

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