The NSW Department of Education’s latest annual report reveals a massive amount of underspending on the state’s schools.
The Baird Government committed to investing $14.2 billion on education during 2014-15. Yet the Department’s own report (p.56) shows an actual underspend of $281 million less than promised.
Millions in unallocated funds should have been spent on maintaining our local public schools, many of which are bursting at the seams.
The report also reveals that in 2015 the government decreased spending on maintenance by $26.6 million from the previous year. The full annual report can be viewed here.
In April, NSW Labor obtained documents under freedom of information that indicated a staggering $732 million maintenance backlog across NSW primary and high schools.
In the Summer Hill electorate alone, the maintenance backlog totals $6.6 million.
The backlog consists mainly of basic necessities like leaking rooves and gutters and dilapidated classrooms through to managing asbestos.
Under the Baird Government the school maintenance backlog has surged. Reporting by the NSW Auditor-General shows the maintenance backlog jumped a whopping $195 million between 2013-14 and 2014-15, more than 36 per cent in one year.
The underspend is particularly concerning given the urgent need for greater capacity at Inner West schools, many of which are at or close to capacity.
Quotes attributable to Jo Haylen MP
“Tackling the huge maintenance backlog and building new schools and classrooms to fix overcrowding is more important than coming in massively under budget.
“The maintenance backlog is not for luxury items in Inner West schools, it’s for basic things like heaters and fans that don’t work, taps that leak, peeling paint and threadbare carpets.
“Our teachers and kids need well-maintained facilities to create the best learning environments.
“If the money was there, why wasn’t it spent on upgrading our schools, or at bare minimum maintaining the classrooms we have? The Government should apologise for promising to spend more but actually delivering less.”