A second independent school has been identified for misappropriating federal money destined for new classrooms and libraries to prop up its operating budget instead.
The federal government is investigating the ”improper or inappropriate’‘ use of Building the Education Revolution money by schools and is unable to rule out others emerging.
”There are two schools that we are aware of [to date],” said a spokesman for Chris Evans, the new federal minister responsible for the $16.2 billion BER program.
Shearwater, the Mullumbimby Steiner School, was placed into voluntary administration in March with debts of $10 million. The receiver, PPB, found the BER money had been spent on keeping the school operational.
It is the second Steiner school to have misappropriated federal money. Last week the Herald reported the Manning River Steiner School used part of its $250,000 grant for a library to patch up its working budget.
The problems involving the Steiner schools shifts scrutiny of the BER program to the independent education sector after the NSW government was pilloried for its handling of the money.
Under an agreement with the federal government, the Association of Independent Schools of NSW distributed the BER money to the two Steiner schools.
Dr Geoff Newcombe, the AIS executive director, said monitoring of all BER projects had occurred. “In both cases cited, the appropriate processes were followed and proved to be effective,” he said, ”No government funds have been lost in either case and all … program requirements have been satisfactorily met.”
(Source: Heath Gilmore, Brisbane Times – September 24, 2010)