SA government stalls on extra staff in schools

Issue 

SA government stalls on extra staff in schools

SA government stalls on extra staff in schools

By Melanie Sjoberg

Adelaide — City workers were bemused by the appearance of 700 cardboard cutouts on the lawns of Victoria Square, outside the parliamentary ministers' offices, on November 4.

The Australian Education Union planted the characters to symbolise the staff who will be lost at the end of the school year if the government doesn't implement its commitment to funds for additional (called flexible) staffing.

Other protests occurred at politicians' local offices.

The additional funds were first won as part of enterprise bargaining in 1996 and have provided a welcome reprieve for schools pushed to overload. The $28 million per year has again been allocated as part of the annual budget process in recognition that schools need the extra staff.

However, the government has tied the funds to negotiations for the next round of enterprise bargaining.

Senior officials of the Education Department claim that the funds cannot be released until the AEU agrees to the rest of the government offer. The AEU maintains that it is possible to release the funds without prejudice to the rest of the negotiations.

The new offer includes a salary increase of 13% over three years, the $28 million in additional staffing each year, a review of country incentives for teachers and changes to conditions for TAFE lecturers.

The AEU is seeking further improvements in staffing and administrative time in schools, preschools and TAFE, and refuses to be bought off by the wage offer.

The AEU argues that student learning is equally important, especially support in disadvantaged and rural areas.

The AEU has also argued that the government is giving with one had and taking with the other. The forward education budget projections reduce the overall available funds by more than $40 million each year.

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