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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Catholic schools use contingency funds

Catholic schools across Maitland and Newcastle are set to benefit from contingency funds to assist the schools in navigating the financial pressures from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Catholic Schools Office Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle has never taken this step before, but Diocesan Director of Catholic Schools, Gerard Mowbray, says the decision to make the $2.2 million investment is considered essential to ensuring all schools are safe.

“By providing this financial support, we aim to reassure our school communities including parents, carers, students and staff that we have the means to operate safely in a COVID-19 context,” he said.

The funding announcement was shared with principals as schools prepare to increase face-to-face learning.

The money will be used in addition to funds provided by the Federal Government to support additional hygiene measures in schools.

We have asked principals to ensure enhanced cleaning measures are in place, the availability of sanitation and hygiene products increased, and appropriate staffing arrangements made,” Mr Mowbray said.

“All of these measures cost money.”

He said the Diocese was cognisant it was placing these stringent demands on schools at a time when many were experiencing increased financial stress due to some fees being deferred or waived at the request of families.

“We recognised that schools’ costs are increasing at a time when their fee revenue may be decreasing, so we moved to provide additional financial support,” Mr Mowbray said.

“This is not a time to be frugal. We must be sensible and the safety and wellbeing of our school communities is always our top priority.”

He added the level of financial support provided to each school will vary in line with their size, and made in three instalments, over three months.

San Clemente High School Principal Bernard Burgess welcomed the extra support.

“This funding will go a long way towards keeping our school community safe and secure,” he said.

“Safe in terms of the practical aspects of funding for extra cleaning and medical supplies that assure staff, students and families that our school is a place where learning and community can continue uninterrupted.

“Secure in the sense that families will be supported through this financially-challenging period.”