THE NSW education department has proposed to cut more than 20 jobs from its Wagga office and absorb the city into a newly created zone which stretches as far as Wollongong.
In total 31.3 full-time equivalent staff across the four Riverina Department of Education and Communities (DEC) offices are earmarked for redundancy.
The move is the first phase of a state government plan to cut 600 public school department jobs and save $1.7 billion in education spending.
A copy of the draft proposal – sent to departments yesterday afternoon and obtained by the Advertiser – appears to expect greater responsibility for principals as flagged in the Local Schools, Local Decisions policy.
The Wagga office is expected to be the hardest hit in the Riverina, with 20.8 of the 42.8 staff facing the axe.
There will be a two-week consultation period before the draft is amended then put back out for another two weeks of consultation.
The Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli, wants the final copy done before the end of term on December 21.
Some staff and teachers in the Riverina are frustrated with the short timeline for consultation which comes at the busy end of the year.
“I know what’s in the draft (but) I can’t comment on it as minister for education because I would prejudice the consultation,” Mr Piccoli told the Advertiser yesterday.
The plan calls for 15 of the 54 department offices around the state to shut.
Administrative staff are targeted, while support staff like Aboriginal liaison officers and disability assistance providers are largely protected.
“In general, support classes in mainstream schools and special settings will not be affected,” the proposal reads.
Under the plan five new geographic groups would be established across the state.
The Riverina offices would be absorbed into group four, which extends from Deniliquin, Griffith and Albury to Bateman’s Bay and Wollongong.
Member for Wagga Daryl Maguire was scathing of the former Labor government which executed similar job cuts and centralisation in the mid 1990s.
Yesterday, he said the Coalition government was tightening the belt and things could have been worse.
“It’s different because Bob Carr ... took 110 jobs without consultation,” Mr Maguire said.
“The reality is there are some roles that can be integrated.”
Unions and principals’ organisations were briefed about the proposed new model yesterday.