Opposition Leader Luke Foley has announced a Labor government would air condition some 600 schools as part of a $300 million investment.
Mr Foley was in Penrith today for the launch of Labor’s Cool Schools policy, which will also guarantee air conditioning in all new schools built under Labor.
The Opposition is maintaining its ‘schools before stadiums’ election pitch, with a statement from Mr Foley declaring: “Labor will air condition children’s classrooms while the Liberal-Nationals government will air condition the corporate boxes”.
Despite Penrith’s soaring summer temperatures, the current State Government policy does not guarantee air conditioning in schools.
Labor says it will guarantee air conditioning for all schools in Penrith and thousands of classrooms across western Sydney and regional NSW.
“For the first time thousands of children will get air conditioning in their classrooms,” Mr Foley said.
“We will ensure every new school we build has air-conditioning – the day it opens.
“Labor believes it’s more important to air condition classrooms where our children learn than corporate boxes in Sydney stadiums.”
Even new schools are not built with air conditioning as mandatory.
“Labor will immediately conduct an audit of the state’s 2200 primary and secondary schools to give priority to schools with the hottest temperatures,” Mr Foley said.
“The costs of running air conditioning will be partially offset by Labor’s commitment to solar panels on school roofs.”
Shadow Education Minister Jihad Dib said it was an important move.
“Students will always struggle in a sweltering classroom – they are easily distracted, fatigued and unable to achieve learning outcomes.
“A world class education system provides exceptional learning conditions. Our students and school communities have a right to expect this level of commitment from their government,” he said.
“Air conditioning is crucial in areas which experience hot and humid temperatures. Excessively hot classrooms impact the teacher’s ability to effectively provide the best instruction to their class.
“This policy is an absolute gamechanger.”
But NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said Labor’s policy was “full of hot air”.
“Don’t be fooled. In fact, Labor’s meagre investment would fund air conditioning for just 10 per cent of all NSW schools,” he said.
“If Labor were so concerned, why then during their 16 years in office did they fail to air condition schools, both in Western Sydney and across the State.”