TEACHERS, parents and members of the wider community turned out in force yesterday to protest NSW government funding cuts they say places the future of public education firmly in the firing line. More than 200 people flocked to the Lake Cathie Bowling Club to voice concern and anger at the O'Farrell government in the community day of action organised by the Port Macquarie Teachers Association in conjunction with other groups. Originally planned for the Lake Cathie reserve, the wet weather sent the crowd across the road to the club, but the rain didn't dampen the passion and commitment to the cause.
Angered teachers and parents aimed to send a clear message to the O'Farrell government regarding the planned $1.7 billion cuts to funding and the loss of 1800 teaching positions.
Of particular concern was the planned axing of the equity program. One school from the region stood to lose $200,000 from that program alone, Port Macquarie Teachers Association president Mark Thurston said yesterday.
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Eight consultation jobs would go from the Port Macquarie Department of Education and Communities office, Mr Thurston said.
"All for the sake of fiscal polity," he said.
He said the planned changes mean 800 TAFE positions would go and there were a significant number of TAFE teachers at the meeting.
"This isn't about better education for students," Mr Thurston said.
It was about balancing budgets, and Mr Thurston said the community needed to know the extent of the proposed changes.
"The quality of the services of schools will be taken away," he said.
"A lot of schools are going to lose out big time."
Yesterday's event was one of 30 across NSW.
State Port Macquarie member Leslie Williams was notified of the meeting, Mr Thurston said.
"But she declined to attend," he said.
He urged community members to write to Ms Williams to voice their concerns.
"We need to get her to understand, and we're hoping the community can rally," Mr Thurston said.