QUEENSLAND children will have safer schools and cleaner classrooms to learn in with another $100 million announced to clear the massive school maintenance backlog inherited by the State Government.
Premier Campbell Newman said it was the next instalment of the $300 million election promise to revitalise frontline services by improving schools.
“We want our state schools to be places students are proud of – places where they and their teachers can work in a secure, clean and comfortable environment,” Mr Newman said.
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“Labor had no concept of this and let our schools fall into a disgraceful state of disrepair.
“This government moved quickly to get rid of peeling paint, ripped carpets and cracked footpaths, to ensure our schools are safe for our kids and vibrant hubs for the community.
“We pledged to revitalise education for Queensland’s children and this funding will allow all schools to have the final work from their 2012 backlogs fully cleared.
“Schools across the whole state will receive funding to clear the maintenance problems and at The Gap State High School more than $900,000 will be allocated in this final round of funding.”
Principal Russell Pollock said parts of the 54-year-old school were showing their age and this year’s Fixing Our Schools initiative would provide an opportunity to finish bringing things up to scratch.
Work completed so far included replacing two dated home economics kitchens with modern stainless steel facilities, external painting of buildings and replacing old cracked bitumen surfaces with stencilled concrete and artificial grass, including garden beds and landscaping.
“Members of the community are starting to comment about how good the school is looking, and noting it was looking a bit tired,” Mr Pollock said.
“At the end of the day it’s all about providing a positive learning environment and a facility the school community and local community can take pride in.”
Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek said that in addition to the backlog-busting program, schools continued to receive funding for their ongoing maintenance needs, including routine breakdowns and planned work.
“Our students deserve the best chance at the best possible education, and safe and effective working facilities are the most basic foundation for this,” Mr Langbroek said.
“What the Fixing Our Schools initiative will achieve this year is a milestone in its own right, giving all schools an equal place at the starting line with their ongoing backlogs of work cleared.
“This maintenance funding is a key part of our strong plan to deliver better outcomes for students – we’re also boosting teacher quality, increasing school autonomy and improving student discipline.”
Mr Langbroek said the government had also cut red tape, allowing schools to directly source local contractors to ensure that they get the best value from the best people available locally.
“Some schools with the largest maintenance backlogs received in excess of $500,000 to help them catch up,” he said.
“By the end of the financial year all Queensland schools will have been fully funded to the value of the backlog they had in 2012 when the program commenced, and will receive ongoing funding to address newly identified maintenance to ensure this situation doesn’t repeat itself.”
The Fixing Our Schools initiative is a $300 million commitment over three years.