CANBERRA, May 17 - The federal government says it will add $18.6 billion funding over the next decade, moving every school to a consistent, needs-based position in terms of what the Commonwealth stumps up.
But with Labor opposed to the plan and the Greens undecided, Education Minister Simon Birmingham may have to turn to the unpredictable Senate crossbench for support.
So what does it mean for schools if his legislation does not pass parliament?
GONSKI 1.0 VS GONSKI 2.0
Two types of funding indexation are in existing legislation, which passed parliament in 2013.
First, the act sets a schooling resource standard - the per-student amount needed to give a child a good education - and indexes this at 3.6 per cent a year. This SRS (plus loadings for disadvantage) is the benchmark used when people talk about over- or underfunded schools.
Under the Turnbull government plan, the SRS grows at 3.56 per cent a year in 2018-20. From 2021, it will be indexed based on wages growth and the consumer price index. The government says this reflects real changes in costs but keeps in line with the economy.
MONEY IN SCHOOL BANK ACCOUNTS
Second, the act sets out indexation of actual money going to schools. Essentially, "underfunded" schools see growth of 4.7 per cent a year (faster than SRS indexation) until they reach the benchmark level. "Overfunded" schools have funding grow at three per cent (slower than the SRS).
The new legislation would have Commonwealth funding to schools move towards 20 per cent of the SRS for public schools and 80 per cent for private schools during the next 10 years, based on how far behind they are in 2017.
The government says per-student funding will grow by 4.1 per cent a year, although that average hides variation between sectors. Catholic systems, for example, have been told they will have an average growth of 3.7 per cent a year and, in the ACT, funding for Catholic schools will drop.
HOW DOES THAT ALL ADD UP?
Labor says it's not a fair comparison to look at the indexation rates in legislation because the bulk of the extra funding it promised schools was tied to reforms in six-year agreements. It says the legislated growth plus the extra money would have put nearly every school at the SRS level by 2019.
But the coalition has consistently said it will not honour the final two years of those agreements (that is, 2018 and 2019). This is what's behind Labor's claims of a multibillion-dollar cut to schools.
Senator Birmingham is adamant he will have no special deals - all states will be treated the same. So if the government's bill does not pass and it does not honour the agreements with states, the money going to schools should grow each year but it will take a lot longer to get to the benchmark SRS and there will not be any fast injections of cash.
This tallies with his department's Tony Cook telling senators this year it was possible to meet the "current budget envelope" (the total money the coalition will spend) without changing legislation.