‘No fee increases’ for two years in school tax plan
PRIVATE school parents are being promised there will be "no fee increases" for two years under a funding shake up, which will use parents' tax details to determine how much cash their school gets.
The Catholic and independent education sector facing one of the biggest changes to their funding in recent years, sparking fears it will spark fee hikes at some of Queensland's most prestigious schools.
Education Minister Dan Tehan revealed schools will be able to appeal against funding decisions under the new scheme.
Mr Tehan told The Courier-Mail there will be "no fee increases" from the system for at least two years, with schools able to choose whether the old or new scheme works for them over a transition period.
Parents groups have already warned mums and dads could have to make "significant sacrifices" if the move pushes up fees.
But the government will allow private schools two years to transition to the new scheme in a bid to take the pressure off any price shocks.
While it was flagged 18 months ago, laws which will see de-identified tax returns of private school parents used to determine how much funding their school should get have been quietly introduced to Parliament and will be debated this week.
The plan will use an median average of parents' wages over three years to determine their capacity to pay and the needs-based funding the school should receive.
Mr Tehan said there will be an appeals process schools can apply to from the middle of next year, while the government will investigate a different averaging method to see if it smooths out any unexpected anomalies.
"There will be no impact on fees this year or next year because they're getting the best of," he said.
"The government is putting in place checks and balance to make sure that any fee increases are minimised for schools in transitioning to this new method."
The appeals process will be ongoing, so any future employment shocks which change school demographics will be taken into account.
Independent Schools Queensland boss David Robertson said he was concerned the laws had been introduced before being "rigorously quality assured and validated".
"ISQ is not convinced the (plan) is an accurate reflection of the capacity of independent school families to contribute to their child's schooling costs and wants to see alternative models tested," he said.
"The impacts will be different for individual schools as will how they respond to the funding changes."
Australian Parents Council president Jenni Richard said they were broadly supportive of the plan, but were concerned about potential fee increases.
"If school fees were too rise dramatically that would put pressure on family budgets and parents might have to choose whether or not to continue with what is a 13 year plus commitment," she said.