Statement by Executive Director, Bill Dixon
16 APRIL 2020
Cairns Catholic Education wishes to correct the misleading information published in today’s Cairns Post.
Executive Director Bill Dixon responded to a question why parents should continue to pay fees while schooling was delivered remotely, not whether parents who were experiencing financial difficulty because of the coronavirus pandemic response would receive fee reprieve.
The headline ‘No fee relief in sight at Far North Catholic Schools’ is the exact opposite of the facts.
Cairns Catholic Education moved very quickly, as soon as the coronavirus crisis emerged, to increase its existing fee concessions for holders of means-tested concession cards from 70% to 100% and fast tracked additional fee concession categories to include those receiving the government’s new Job Seeker Payment, to commence from the start of Term 2 next week.
It has always been the case for Cairns Catholic Education to offer fee relief to families in financial difficulty as Cairns Catholic Education’s policy has always been that no child will be denied a Catholic education because of financial hardship.
While the concession applies to school fees, not levies, if paying levies still poses financial difficulty for families, they are encouraged to confidentially discuss their situation with their school principal.
Families without means tested concession cards who are experiencing genuine financial hardship in paying fees should, and have always been, also encouraged to speak with their school principal for special consideration.
The Discount Fees Information Sheet can be found at https://www.cns.catholic.edu.au/discount-fees
Regarding why parents who could afford to do so should continue to pay their fees during schooling from home, Mr Dixon said: “Unlike childcare fees, the government has not made non-government schools fee-free. Governments fund approximately 80% of the costs of a Catholic school, compared with 100% of the costs of a state school. Fees in Catholic schools cover the other 20% of costs. Our schools still have the full range of costs and our staff are all still employed.
Providing fee relief to those in financial distress and now also to those who have experienced COVID-19 related loss of income has placed further pressure on that 20% source of income. This makes it all the more important that those who can afford to pay their fees continue to do so, to help ensure the continued strength and viability of our schools.”
In a letter to parents, Mr Dixon sincerely thanks parents for their continued support and commitment to Catholic Education.
“Our teachers and school officers are working hard to ensure that we can continue to provide the best learning opportunities possible for your children. The professionalism of our staff at this time is to be commended, and I know that with your support we can greatly minimise any potential
negative impact that this unprecedented period of time could have on the well-being and learning progression of your children.”