It is an uncomfortable reality that the Operations Grant received by high decile schools such as Ridgway, is insufficient to deliver the range of learning opportunities and educational experiences that we believe are necessary for our children. Decile rankings are determined by the census data about household income within school catchment areas, and Decile 1 schools are funded per pupil at approximately double the rate of Decile 10 schools. We make up the shortfall in our operational funding from various fundraising activities, including galas, food fiestas, and movie nights, as well as by seeking a Voluntary Donation and an EOTC Fee from parents.
Recently the board became aware of an Ombudsman’s ruling in 2014, that now prevents schools from referring to monies requested from parents as fees. Any costs associated with delivery of our school curriculum must be met from our operations grant, and any contributions made by parents must be voluntary donations.
From the time that we became aware of this ruling we changed our wording on notices and communications. All of our 2016 communications will use the terms ‘donation’, ‘voluntary’, and ‘contribution’, rather than ‘compulsory’ and ‘fee’. In this way we will be faithful to the intent of the Ombudsman’s ruling. If every family took us at our word however, and chose not to make a donation, we would quickly find ourselves in financial strife. Locally raised funds came to approximately 10% of our total costs for running the school in 2014.
At Ridgway School every child is able to participate in every learning activity or experience related to their studies in class . This means that regardless of whether or not parents have chosen to make a voluntary contribution or donation, their children do not miss out. You will appreciate that for us to continue to provide all children with the broad and enriching curriculum that the Ridgway community has come to expect, we need parents to support us with a financial contribution. The Board of Trustees believe that our parents do indeed accept this situation and are grateful to the vast majority of parents that voluntarily contribute to the cost of providing a rich curriculum, as well as to those that give freely of their time and expertise in support of the school.
There is a benefit to parents of our changed wording as next year all voluntary payments made to the school will be considered donations and as such can be used to claim a 33.3% tax refund, and are no longer subject to GST.