Elite schools divided over $10.8m loan scandal
PARENTS at an elite private girls' school are furious about a $10.8 million loan to an affiliated boys' college, claiming their fees should not be used to "prop up" underperformance while their daughters languish in substandard classrooms.
In the latest uproar concerning Moreton Bay College and Moreton Bay Boys' College, located 3km apart in Manly West, parents say the schools are separate institutions and one shouldn't suffer to support the other.
Moreton Bay - which charges up to $16,500 a year in fees, almost $3000 more than MBBC - has loaned the smaller boys' school $10.85 million, according to the latest financial report.
But parents say the move has been poorly communicated and MBC should spend that money on improving learning.
"We signed up for a girls' education," said one mother, who declined to be named.
"And I don't believe parents know the true amount of money going over the fence to MBBC.
"Many girls have been using the same desks as they were decades ago, and the last major building program was the ($6m) science centre six years ago.
"We are paying top dollar for our daughters without top opportunities. The school may claim they have best practice in teaching but why are academic results going backwards?"
The stoush over resources follows months of unrest and last week's resignation of executive principal James Sloman.
Mr Sloman, who lived on the MBC campus and whose two sons attended the boys' school, had been on extended leave since Janaury following an independent probe into alleged "inappropriate, intimidating and belittling" behaviour.
He has denied the allegations, and the joint board has come under fire over its handling of his departure amid allegations he demanded millions to quit.
One old girl said she was "disgusted" that MBC, founded in 1901, was being used to "prop-up the weaker boys' school", established in 2003.
She said boys regularly used the girls' facilities, including the hall, pool and athletic track, but this was not reciprocated.
Another MBC insider said parents were being unfairly expected to chip in for maintenance that should be covered by fees.
"The Voluntary Building Fund should be for major building works, not painting halls and installing airconditioning," the source said.
In a letter to parents last month, Moreton Bay Colleges' Foundation Board Chair Jason Titman called for donations "to allow ongoing work to continue at MBC".
Mr Titman said VBF projects would include the upgrade of primary classrooms following refurbishments of the secondary maths' classrooms, D Block design spaces and the learn-to-swim pool, and painting of the Leita Boswell Hall.
He has stressed donations are "100% for the use of MBC" and not shared with MBBC.
The Uniting Church-affiliated Pre-Prep to Year 12 schools are legally separate entities but have had a common board since 2011.
The latest MBC financial report, which records the $10.85m loan in 2018, states the school is "committed to a joint strategic plan with Moreton Bay Boys'" which includes "developing a shared business model".
Current figures indicate the shared model favours the boys' school.
While MBC made an annual profit of $702,000, the equivalent MBBC report shows a surplus of $1.9 million, a significant jump from $205,000 the previous year (before the significant loan).
OP results have fallen in both schools. In 2019, 31.3 per cent of eligible girls achieved an OP 1-5, down from 34.8 per cent in 2018, while 18.8 per cent of eligible boys received an OP1-5, plummeting from 41.4 per cent.
Moreton Bay College has 1150 students and is set on 20 hectares, while Moreton Bay Boys' has 500 students and 13 hectares.
Originally published as Elite schools divided over $10.8m loan scandal