Schools face huge maintenance backlog

Prue Car at Chifley College Dunheved Campus
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Chifley College Dunheved Campus at St Marys is one of 65 schools in the Penrith area that are together experiencing a $21 million maintenance backlog.

In the electorate of Penrith, 22 schools have a maintenance backlog totalling $7,805,357 and in Mulgoa, 17 schools have a backlog of $5,247,499.

In the Londonderry electorate, the backlog sits at a total of $8,439,040 across 26 schools, including Chifley College Dunheved Campus.

Londonderry MP and Shadow Assistant Minister for Education Prue Car said the backlog needs to be addressed in the June 21 State Budget.

“The maintenance backlog is not for luxury items in schools, it’s for basic things like heaters and fans that don’t work, taps that leak, peeling paint and threadbare carpets,” she said.

Ms Car said the information came from the NSW Department of Education’s own Annual Report that showed a promised $14.2 billion investment in education during 2014-15, and an actual under-spend of $281 million.

She said the under-spend is particularly concerning given the urgent need for a new primary school at Jordan Springs, promised by the Liberals to be completed in the State Government’s second term.

“If the money was there, why wasn’t it spent on a new school at Jordan Springs? The Government should apologise for promising to spend more but actually delivering less,” she said.

“Tackling the huge maintenance backlog and building a new primary school in Jordan Springs is more important than coming in massively under budget.”

Across the state there is a $732 million maintenance backlog in primary and high schools, according to documents obtained by NSW Labor under freedom of information laws.

This backlog is said to be made up mainly of basic necessities like toilet and sewer repairs, carpet replacement, painting, fixing damaged ceilings, installing guttering and replacing windows.

Education spending seems to have been suffering for a while as Member for Penrith, Stuart Ayres, blamed the previous NSW Labor Government for leaving behind a school infrastructure and maintenance backlog liability of almost $1 billion.

“Since 2011, the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government has committed almost $4 billion to school infrastructure and maintenance. This includes 23 new or relocated public schools and 50 major projects,” Mr Ayres said.

“The $1 billion Rebuilding NSW Schools Fund will provide up to 1,600 new or refurbished classrooms across NSW.”

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