MANY schools on Sydney's outer metropolitan fringe will continue to receive less funding than comparable schools in wealthier suburbs under a new NSW government funding regime.
The difference in recurrent income per student can be nearly $3000 a year, figures published on the federal government's My School website show.
Teacher salaries make up more than 80 per cent of public school budgets. Those with less experienced - and therefore cheaper - teachers cost the government less to run under the present arrangements where all salaries are paid for by the Education Department.
Those with a more experienced staff profile - typically in wealthier suburbs and coastal regions - are more expensive. Significant extra income is also raised by parental contributions.
With the Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, committed to giving schools control of 70 per cent of their budgets, schools that are cheaper to run hoped they would receive some of the shortfall - which could be used to employ more mentors to develop younger staff.
But the government said on Monday it would continue to pay whatever salary a teacher was entitled to. Schools would have greater control of budgets and staffing but head office would balance the system by paying the cost of experienced teachers from the savings accruing from inexperienced ones.
Had schools been funded according to the average cost of a teacher those with inexperienced staff could have received up to $1 million more a year. One principal, who refused to be identified, said the government had dodged the opportunity for fair reform. ''We will be subsidising everyone else.''
Jim McMorrow, an honorary associate professor of education at the University of Sydney and an expert in funding systems, said the decision perpetuated the situation where the most challenging students tended to be taught by the most inexperienced teachers.
''You would hope any new arrangements would overcome those inequities rather than embed them,'' he said.
The chairwoman of the Public Schools Principals Forum, Cheryl McBride, said schools must be free to employ teachers without worrying about their salaries.
''We would definitely be disappointed that those schools who do have less experienced staff will not receive the [salary] difference,'' she said.
The deputy president of the NSW Secondary Principals Council, Chris Presland, said the new arrangements should see a more equitable distribution across the state. But he acknowledged they would not improve the difficulties some schools experience in attracting staff.
''One of the great challenges is to develop a system of staffing incentives for hard-to-staff schools, whether they are in metropolitan, regional or remote areas,'' he said. In five years as the principal at Airds High, Mr Presland did not have a single teacher transfer into the school.
The NSW opposition spokeswoman on education, Carmel Tebbutt, said the reform was simply ''dividing up a shrinking pool of school funding''.