School demountables shortchange our students
THE Berejiklian-Barilaro Government’s spending explosion on demountables continues to shortchange students in public schools across the Northern Rivers region, according to State Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin.
Ms Saffin said Budget estimates had revealed that there still were a total of 26 demountable classrooms at schools in the Lismore Electorate.
She said this was a damning indictment of a Government which had had more than eight years to convert temporary teaching spaces into permanent classrooms.
“Since March 2011, the NSW Liberals and Nationals have spent $275 million constructing and refurbishing demountable classrooms, when they could have been investing in permanent ones,” Ms Saffin said.
Ms Saffin said some of the worst affected schools, based on new figures obtained by Labor through the Budget Estimates process, were: Murwillumbah East Public School (8 demountables), Bexhill Public School (5 demountables) and Wyrallah Road Public School (3 demountables). Other schools had one or two demountables.
Ms Saffin noted that the Nationals had made election promises to upgrade Bexhill and Murwillumbah East public schools but she could not find timeframes for construction.
“Statewide, the annual spend on demountable classrooms has exploded from $5 million in 2011/12 to $78 million in 2018/19, a 1,460 per cent increase,” Ms Saffin said.
During that time, the Berejiklian-Barilaro Government has also spent almost $20 million on demountable classroom maintenance costs.
Ms Saffin criticised the Liberals and Nationals for dropping the ball in education infrastructure planning.
“It’s hard to believe but as at September 11 this year, there are a total of 6,598 demountable classrooms in New South Wales schools,” Ms Saffin said.
“This Government has failed to properly address an over-crowding crisis in schools, and as a consequence, is shortchanging students, teachers, support staff and school communities.”