Labor candidate for Lismore Janelle Saffin and NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley are concerned about school maintenanace backlog.
Labor candidate for Lismore Janelle Saffin and NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley are concerned about school maintenanace backlog. Contributed

Pollies battle over the state of our schools

THE state of schools in the region has become the latest political hot potato, with Member for Lismore Thomas George saying there had been a "record blitz" on spending, and the NSW Opposition leader claiming Northern Rivers schools' maintenance backlog was the highest in the state.

Mr George said: "Latest figures show that the NSW Government has slashed the State's planned school maintenance list by more than $200 million - or by about a quarter - in the past 18 months following a record blitz addressing roofing, flooring, painting and other maintenance projects".

He said schools with the highest need got top priority, and more funding for further maintenance projects will be rolled in the new financial year.

"The NSW Government is only at the beginning of a four year program of investing $747 million to reduce the planned maintenance liability in our schools," Mr George said.

 

He said in the 2017-18 financial year $3.5 million will be spent on planned maintenance in Lismore electorate schools.

Mr George said NSW Department of Education'slatest audit showed its planned maintenance liability for NSW government schools has reduced from a projected $775 million at June 2016 down to $570 million as at December 2017.

However the NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley and Labor's candidate for Lismore Janelle Saffin are asking for more to be done.

A statement from NSW Labor said: "Despite calls for the Government to prioritise the massive state-wide school maintenance backlog over Sydney stadiums, schools in Lismore have been left behind".

"New figures released under Freedom of Information laws reveal that the school maintenance backlog in Lismore has increased from $11 million to $21 million - an increase of 93per cent".

The statement said the statewide backlog usually included money for basic necessities like toilet and sewer repairs, carpets, painting, fixing damaged roofs, installing guttering, replacing windows and other general repairs, but Lismore's maintenance backlog was compounded by the fact many schools are waiting on money to fix last year's flood damage.

Mr Foley and Ms Saffin said The Rivers Secondary College Kadina High Campus has the highest maintenance backlog in the electorate at $1.7 million.

"Lismore teachers and students need well-maintained facilities to create the best learning environments," Ms Saffin said.

"The community has a right to be angry that they are being over-looked while this government splurges $2.7 billion on Sydney stadiums."

Mr George said the Labor's candidate for Lismore Janelle Saffin was not qualified to talk about school maintenance as in her previous role as Federal Labor MP for Page she was a part a Federal Government that wasted billions on the Building the Education Revolution (BER) program.

Mr George said: "The school maintenance liability does not include any maintenance that poses a safety risk to students or staff as these items are addressed immediately. Similarly, any broken items in classrooms that impact on teaching and learning are addressed as priority by the school or the department".