MEDIA RELEASE: Hunter schools crumbling under Baird Government
Education Department documents released by the Labor Opposition today reveal the full extent of crumbling schools in the Hunter under a massive $732 million statewide maintenance backlog. The documents obtained under freedom of information reveal the individual maintenance backlogs for 2,173 primary and high schools across the state as at 30 June 2015. Hunter high schools feature prominently on the list, with 12 local high schools in the region all with a maintenance backlog bill of at least $1 million or more. Those 12 schools have a combined backlog bill of $17.4 million. Rutherford High School fared worst across the region with repairs of $2.06 million outstanding. Maitland High High ($1.69m) is the second worst in the region followed by Cessnock High ($1.65m) and Maitland Grossman High ($1.59m). A wide range of works are needed across Hunter schools including toilet and sewer upgrades, carpet replacement, painting, fixing damaged rooves, installing guttering, replacing windows and other general repairs. Statewide analysis of the data shows:
120 schools have an individual maintenance backlog in excess of $1 million each;
486 schools have a backlog in excess of $500,000;
Less than three percent of schools (64) have a backlog bill of less than $10,000.
Under the Baird Liberal Government the school maintenance backlog has surged. According to the NSW Auditor-General, between 2013-14 and 2014-15, the maintenance backlog jumped a whopping $195 million in one year – more than 36 per cent. In 2014-15 the government spent just $158 million on the school maintenance backlog. The maintenance bill is growing faster than the maintenance spend across the state, meaning many schools will never be up to scratch. While the government pursues a seemingly limitless upgrade of stadia across Sydney, there is no plan to fix crumbling schools in the Hunter. Quotes attributable to Leader of the Opposition Luke Foley “Schools in the Hunter are literally crumbling under the Baird Government. “The maintenance backlog is spiraling out control. Hunter schools are being neglected while the government brawls with itself over how to spend billions on sporting stadiums in Sydney.” Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for the Hunter and Member for Port Stephens Kate Washington “Hunter schools with huge maintenance backlogs need an urgent cash injection. “Damaged facilities are a frustration for teachers and students and make it more difficult to teach and learn.” Quotes attributable to the Member for Maitland Jenny Aitchison “The government isn’t keeping up with the repair bill and the reality is many local schools will never be up to scratch under Mike Baird. “Three high schools in the electorate of Maitland are all amongst the worst in NSW.” Quotes attributable to the Member for Cessnock Clayton Barr “As a former teacher I know how frustrating it is to have distractions in the classroom like broken windows and worn carpet.” Quotes attributable to the Member for Wallsend Sonia Hornery “The level of damage and wear and tear left unfixed is completely unacceptable. Local schools need to be properly maintained to ensure the best environment for learning.” Quotes attributable to the Member for Charlestown Jodie Harrison “Teachers, students and parents in the Newcastle region deserve better. It’s yet another example of the Baird Liberal Government taking our city and our region for granted.” Quotes attributable to the Member for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp “This is disgraceful. The government is too focused on privatising the public transport network that it’s completely forgotten about maintaining our local schools.” Quotes attributable to the Member for Swansea Yasmin Catley “Parents will look at this list and be completely shocked at the damage bill to their local school under this government.” CASE STUDIES Irrawang High School
Maintenance Backlog at 30 June 2015: $1,530,264
Maintenance work completed between July 2015 and Feb 2016: $1034
Examples of maintenance works completed: replace carpet.
Maitland High School
Maintenance Backlog at 30 June 2015: $1,675,158
Maintenance work completed between July 2015 and Feb 2016: $128,785
Examples of maintenance works completed: downpipes, gutters, flashing.
Cessnock High School
Maintenance Backlog at 30 June 2015: $1,654,388
Maintenance work completed between July 2015 and Feb 2016: $120,896
Examples of maintenance works completed: replacing carpet.