Catholic school fees up

CATHOLIC school fees will go up this year but a state government freeze on private-school funding is not to blame, Maitland-Newcastle Catholic Schools Office has said.

Director of Schools Ray Collins said fees would increase about 2.9per cent this year to cope with education inflation pressures, including electricity price rises and technology.

Increases range between 93¢ and $2 a week but there is a small decrease in fees for students between years 9 and 10.

Mr Collins said the diocese had tried to absorb the anticipated loss of funds following a state government announcement late last year to peg its private school funding at 2012 levels.

The decision is set to hurt Catholic education the most, since their disadvantaged schools rely more on the funds than wealthier schools do.

Though fees have been unaffected, educators warned that the cuts could hinder construction of new schools in growth areas, affect services and force students into the public sector.

‘‘These fee increases are in line with previous annual increases in tuition fees,’’ Mr Collins said.

The Catholic Schools Office has also restructured its discounts system this year for families with multiple children at Catholic schools.

The education consumer prices index was 6.1per cent in 2011-12 compared with a general rate of 1.2per cent.

Newcastle Grammar principal Alan Green said the school’s fees would have to go up 6per cent to keep pace with education costs, such as ,  insurance, staff salaries and  in particular technology, where  ‘‘costs are increasing at a phenomenal rate’’.

Mr Green said they were also concerned about the impact of a looming state government funding peg, given that enrolments in the independent sector were also growing.

Hunter Valley Grammar principal Paul Teys said his school’s fees would increase 4per cent.

‘‘The largest pressure on fee rises will always be salary costs,’’ he said.

The rise is unlikely to affect student numbers on the campus, with the school bypassing 1000 enrolments in 2013 and waiting lists for enrolment in most grades.

‘‘The primary school is virtually full,’’ he said.

Figures show that the most expensive Hunter private school is Newcastle Grammar and Catholic schools are cheapest.

At Newcastle Grammar the total cost for the education of one child from kindergarten to year 12 at today’s prices would be $210,340.

At Hunter Catholic schools, which are all the same price, the total cost of educating a child at today’s prices would be $17,115.

The fees do not include extra costs such as resource packs and school excursions,  building levies and sports.

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