D-day is looming for the Government’s big plan to change the way the country’s schools are funded.
The 10-year shake-up was announced back in May but since then it has become pretty clear it will not pass the Parliament in its current form.
What was the original plan?
A funding increase of $18.6 billion over 10 years, with the greatest share going to the schools that need it most.
Schools would be gradually moved to a common share of Commonwealth funding over a decade, replacing the existing funding deals signed when Labor was in office.
Some schools will lose money in the process but the majority will receive more.
The Commonwealth would fund 20 per cent of the base funding amount for government schools and 80 per cent for non-government schools.
States would be required to at least maintain their current funding levels.
What are we likely to end up with?
The Greens and the Nick Xenophon Team want the money to flow to needy schools faster than 10 years.
It looks likely that agreement will be reached to move to a six-year plan. This would add an extra $1.5 billion cost to the package over four years.
Both parties also want an independent body set up as a watchdog to monitor the way funding is distributed.
This is still being worked through but also appears likely to be included in a final deal.
The other key demand being negotiated is a way to force the states to increase their funding. This is more complicated to do and is still being discussed.
Agreeing to these demands from the Greens could upset some Coalition backbenchers who would see this as a markedly different proposal to what was originally put forward.
A Liberal senator’s threatening to vote against it
WA Liberal senator Chris Back has different issues he wants addressed.
He wants the current system used to fund Catholic schools kept for 12 months while the change to the new model is reviewed.
The Government is unlikely to meet this demand, as doing so would maintain the special arrangement the Catholic sector has in place. The Government has been adamant that all special deals should be removed.
Discussions between Senator Back and Education Minister Simon Birmingham are still happening.
What’s going to happen this week in the Senate?
The bill is listed for debate on Wednesday and the Government needs 10 extra votes to pass the schools package.
If Senator Back is still unhappy and crosses the floor, then the Government needs 11 extra votes.
So far, Derryn Hinch and the four One Nation senators are definitely on board.
Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm and independent Lucy Gichuhi are also likely to support.
Jacqui Lambie is undecided at this stage and Cory Bernardi is opposed.
The Greens’ nine votes and three from the Nick Xenophon Team are still in play.