State Member for Wallsend, Ms Sonia Hornery MP, will today move a Notice of Motion in Parliament calling on the Minister for Education to fund infrastructure in our schools appropriately, after it was discovered local public schools are being forced to compete for grants to fund necessary infrastructure upgrades.
Recently the New Lambton Infants Public School applied for a grant of $27,510 to build a retaining wall to ensure correct drainage away from children’s play areas. The application also raised concerns about land movements and the risk of collapsing structures without a sturdy foundation.
Shortland Public School was also forced to apply for a grant of $25,000 to upgrade a kitchen at the school which has fallen into a state of disrepair. The kitchen, in the school hall, has broken doors and handles and no floor covering, making it unsafe.
A number of other schools have also raised issues with Ms Hornery and letters have been sent to the Minister asking for urgent attention.
Quotes attributable to Member for Wallsend, Sonia Hornery
“It is unacceptable that our local public schools are being forced to compete for grant money to pay for necessary upgrades and infrastructure works that should be being paid for by the Department.”
“I have spoken with a number of P&C’s and they are begging for money to get the works done so that their children have the basic facilities at their local school.”
“Drainage works and upgrading kitchens to make them safe and usable are not optional extras, they are the basics.”
“When local P&C’s are successful in getting a grant or raising enough money for a project, they are then faced with the extraordinary costs of having the project managed by the Education Assets Management Unit, which in most cases charges double for projects when compared to the private sector.”
“Last year a local school managed to get enough money to upgrade their canteen facilities and when they went to get the works done, they discovered the amount that the Education Assets Management Unit were charging, was 50% more than the quotes from other builders that they have received. This meant the costs went from $45,000 to more than $70,000.”
“We must ensure we are getting value for money and that basic infrastructure projects are providing value for money.”
“The Minister needs to ensure that basic infrastructure works are carried out and paid for by the Government and not left to the P&C’s to try and fundraise for.”