Information obtained in Parliament by the Greens shows that public schools across NSW have $1.3 billion in unspent money. Averaged across the state’s 2,200 public schools this equates to almost $600,000 unspent for every school.
The underspend is largely as a result of the Local Schools Local Decisions (LSLD) funding model which the Government claimed would provide “additional funding flexibility”. The reality is that LSLD funding is being given to already overstretched principals who are struggling to deal with the additional time and challenges of complex local budgets.
Many principals simply do not have the time or resources to effectively allocate the LSLD money and oversight the projects or resources chosen, as well as undertake the essential role of providing educational leadership in their schools.
Since the implementation of LSLD in 2014 the accumulated unspent money held by public schools has increased by a staggering $840 million from $460.5 million in 2013 to $1.3 billion in 2019.
The government asserts that $665 million of the accumulated funds was “provided from Government sources” with other moneys said to be “locally raised funds.”
The correspondence from the Education Minister to Mr Shoebridge is available on request.
Greens MP and Education Spokesperson David Shoebridge said: “Local Schools Local Decisions was an experiment in avoiding accountability from the NSW Government, and it has proven to be a failure.
“Let’s be clear, no public school is getting too much funding the problem is that principals are overwhelmed by the additional administrative and financial burdens placed on them under LSLD.
"This is shocking data and it’s $1.3 billion good reasons to end the experiment with Local Schools Local Decisions.
“When I talk with school communities they are telling me they are struggling to find $10,000 or $20,000 to fix leaking roofs or deliver a few electronic whiteboards, so it is unbelievable that there is over a billion dollars sitting unspent.
“Across the state principals have been handed more responsibility and more tasks but without any additional resources to help with the budgeting and program delivery, let alone adequate training.
“Schools need appropriate infrastructure funding and state level support to help them succeed, and this means enough support so that principals can be educational leaders not just business managers.
“Taking Principals away from staff management and teaching to manage infrastructure programs was always going to lead to poor outcomes.
“Local Schools Local Decisions is just another push for managerialism from the NSW Government and another justification to cut staff from the NSW public service.
Teachers, principals and parents should be empowered to make decisions in the interests of their students, and they should be doing so in a framework provided by the Department of Education.
“It’s time for the failed Local Schools Local Decisions program to be ended,” Mr Shoebridge said.