PARENTS have called on the state government to explain why teacher's aides are being sacked at schools purportedly getting more money under a shake-up of special needs funding.
Teacher's aides in Hunter schools began learning late last week that their hours, and in some cases job, had been cut under a redistribution of funds.
Under the Every Student, Every School policy announced in May, 169 Hunter schools will share in an extra $5 million, but 33 schools will lose more than half a million dollars between them.
The teacher's aides union said the increased funding would pay for extra highly-paid specialist teachers but they suspected it came at the expense of a second funding category that covered teacher's aides.
Parents said the redistribution was a cut in disguise because the extra money was supplemented by the federal government's National Partnerships scheme, which lasted only two years.
They also questioned why state funding allocations were based on national literacy and numeracy results when special needs students were generally exempted from testing.
The potentially affected teacher's aides, an estimated 1000 in the Hunter, help students with learning and behaviour problems.
At Plattsburg Public School at Wallsend, parents have been told some of the school's five teacher's aides' hours are to be cut and replaced with a dedicated special needs teacher.
Parent Kirsty Russell cannot understand why jobs have to go with an extra $34,000 a year.
Her son Xander, 8, has albinism and high-functioning autism and time with his autism teacher's aide is under threat next year because he falls below a $6000 threshold.
Annette Steele, of Wallsend, said her son had several disorders that made him violent and she also feared for the overall cuts at Plattsburg Public.
The state government claimed last month Lake Macquarie High would lose $47,000, but it would actually be $80,000 worse off when cuts to both funding schemes were combined.
Public Service Association senior industrial officer Maria Cirillo said early results from its survey showed many aides had lost hours and, in some cases, their job.
The department refused to give the union a break down of funding changes across the two funding categories.
A NSW Education Department spokesman said Lake Macquarie High had been compensated with extra specialist teacher time and would not lose "any permanent teaching staff".
"Hunter Central Coast is gaining five of these positions," he said.
Overall, Plattsburg's funding for specialist support resources rose, including an increase in staff hours, not a decrease, he said.