Fees & Levies
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Over recent years we have significantly improved the quality of education delivery and resourcing to the students of St Kevin’s.
Last year the school together with the support of the SEB reviewed the financial position of the school in moving forward into the next period of growth. We outlined many initiatives that were on the agenda for the 2013 school year. We are happy to be able to say that we have delivered on all of these initiatives.
Wireless Network Upgrade
While the school’s wired network has been in excellent running order, we had found with the recent advancements and benefits to wireless devices that our wireless network was not up to the same standard. St Kevin’s like many other schools had installed a wireless network based on only a small amount of part time users. The introduction of the class iPad set and other devices being used that relied on a stable and consistent wireless network meant that the learning and teaching in classes was being hampered by black spots in the buildings and weak signals in other areas. Our new wireless network works extremely efficiently with little noticeable difference between wired and wireless for most users. All classes are more confident with planning and using the iPads in their learning activities as they now have the confidence that they will work in any part of the school.
In 2012 the staff researched the data available through participation in the Australian Council of Educational Research (ACER). They were impressed with the results and made the recommendation that the school invest in this program. While data, or testing results should never drive the teaching and learning process, it is an invaluable tool in addressing the strength and weaknesses of children during the instructional process. The curriculum is set from the Australian Curriculum documents, but when teachers are planning activities it is important that they can reference data telling them where particular children in their class need the instructional content targeted. It also provides the school with an outside source to validate its own findings. The data provided is sourced by cross referencing against thousands of children across the country.
Updating of Computer Software/Hardware
We all know how often computer hardware and software is updated these days and new products are being released every day. While we have no intention of “jumping on the latest bandwagon”, we do need to keep our resources up to date. New products are sourced only when they can deliver on student outcomes more efficiently than currently and if they fall into the budget constraints we have. We are happy to say that we are now in a position of being able to achieve this. This hasn’t always been the case.
This year we closed our traditional “computer lab” and relocated the computers into the classrooms. This was a paradigm shift as we decided that technology wasn’t something we wanted to turn on or off depending on which room you were in. Technology resources available to us were intended to be integrated into ALL areas of learning. I am pleased to say that this also has been an outstanding success with the technology in the rooms being used to a much higher percentage than when the lab was being used. When teachers still have the need for 1:1 use, then the iPads have been fulfilling this need.
Appointment of Literacy Co-ordinator
In 2013 we increased our staffing by establishing a dedicated Literacy position in the school. The financial priorities of the school meant that this position was compromised until it had become an add-on task for a full time staff member. We had recognized that in focusing on Maths and English over the past few years, if we were to raise the bar again, a dedicated position needed to be re-established. To this end we have employed Mrs Amanda Sullivan in 2013 who has worked successfully in this area. While her time commitment is two full days this year, we are investigating increasing this time.
Together with the assistance of the school accountant we have been diligent in creation and management of all school related budgets. This year we established a new teaching area, the senior unit, where the year 5 and 6 children learning in a spacious open plan environment. While there was some trepidation on how this might work from the parent body and perhaps even some staff, we are happy to report that in every way this has been an outstanding success. With dedicated staff committed to the venture, international data supporting the structure and financial backing to purchase for the changed dynamic, we now have a state of the art learning area. In all areas of school finance the school has been diligent to ensure that we are running a financially responsible school.
This year we have again reviewed the current state of play at St Kevin’s. In August, the school’s accountant presented the financial state of the school’s finances to the board. His report stated that the school’s finances were being run soundly and efficiently, but we were not meeting the projected fee income set by the Catholic Education Office (CEO). This number is set by the CEO according to various criteria including location and demographics. It is taken away from any funding that the school receives in funding allowances from the Education Office. If we raise less than the expected amount we are in real terms disadvantaged. It is also important for any future interest free loans that the school may take for capital works.
We have made a Grant application in for an interest free loan to address several issues in the school that currently exist. These being:
- The age and state of condition of the outside student toilet block.
- The continued use of two aging portable classrooms for specialist areas of the curriculum.
- This land would be better utilized as added play space for the students.
- The lack of toilet and shower facilities in the student sick bay.
- The need for a more modern multi-learning faculty where the arts might be more appropriately housed and the possibility of classes being run there.
- The lack of storage space in the school generally.
In order to be successful in gaining any grant the CEO applies formulas that peg debt amount to collected fees.
The school, its accountant and the board have reviewed the ongoing financial position of the school for 2014. The options considered by the School Board were studied by the school accountant, Fr Barry and myself and the attached fee and levy structure will now be adopted for the 2014 school year. We believe that with this review of fees and levies over the past two years that we are now in a position moving forward where we can plan for a successful future for our current student base.
As always the school makes every attempt to ensure that no other money is asked for by the school during the year to increase these amounts. This isn’t something set in concrete and we cannot plan for all contingencies. In my time at St Kevin’s though we have been able to hold to this. The 2014 Fee & Levy structure implements changes that also take into account the funding changes brought about by new government policy. While this does not affect Catholic schools as adversely as the original Gonski model would have, it does nevertheless impact on the system in general. St Kevin’s has not increased the Levies per child in any area for the 2014 school year. There has been a $200 increase to the Family Fee. This is the “per family” fee chargeable once per family. The grounds/maintenance fee has been raised to $100 and is no longer a refundable item.
Should you have any questions or comments regarding the 2014 Fee and Levy structure, please contact me at your earliest convenience.