School maintenance backlog

Maintenance needed: David Marshall, Adam Searle, Cate Paterson, Evie Marshall, Trish Doyle, Tegan Bennett Daylight and, front, 11-year-old Patrick Daylight.
Maintenance needed: David Marshall, Adam Searle, Cate Paterson, Evie Marshall, Trish Doyle, Tegan Bennett Daylight and, front, 11-year-old Patrick Daylight.

Some of Katoomba High School’s students are hanging on all day without going to the toilet rather than using the rundown facilities at the school, according to parents.

“The toilets and sewers are a terrible problem,” said Cate Paterson, a member of the school’s P & C. “The students try not to go during the day.”

Another P & C parent, Evie Marshall, said the school’s principal was “doing terrific things”, including organising working bees to paint classrooms. 

“The school’s gone ahead in leaps and bounds in how it’s perceived by the community” but its buildings and other facilities were in severe need of attention.

She questioned why the work being done by parents wasn’t being done instead by the state government.

“We spoke to a representative from the Teachers Federation about what we can do to try and fundraise to help this. He said that’s not the job of the P & C to raise funds for maintenance.”

Figures reveal that the school has a maintenance backlog of more than $670,000. Both Springwood High and Blaxland East Public also have hefty backlogs of more than half a million dollars each. Winmalee, Faulconbridge, Wentworth Falls and Katoomba public schools have a backlog of more than $350,000.

In total, schools across the Mountains need repairs and other work costing nearly $5 million.

The figures, obtained by the NSW opposition under freedom of information, showed the government was turning a blind eye to schools’ needs, said Blue Mountains MP, Trish Doyle.

“I talked to someone from Springwood High – they’ve got a huge three-page list of maintenance jobs.”

She said schools and families should not have to rely on the efforts of the P & C to raise money.

“And these repairs aren’t luxury items. The backlog is on basic repairs for things like heaters and fans that are broken, leaking taps, peeling paint and badly worn carpet.

“As a teacher and parent myself, I know that we need well-maintained facilities to create the best learning environments for our children.”

Former Blue Mountains mayor and now MLC, Adam Searle, said the figures showed that across the state schools needed $732 million in work. In 2014-15, just $158 million was spent on the maintenance backlog.

“Schools across the state are crumbling under Mike Baird and the Liberals,” he said.

“At a national level, the Liberals have said they will not fund the Gonski reforms and may walk away from funding public education altogether.

“This information shows that the state Liberals are already starting down this road by failing to invest $732 million in much-needed repairs and maintenance for our local schools.

“As a local to the Blue Mountains with children at local schools, I am appalled by this failure. Our community deserves better.”

But the acting Education Minister, Leslie Williams, said the government inherited the problem from Labor.

“The previous NSW Labor Government left behind a school infrastructure and maintenance backlog liability of almost $1 billion.

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

And a media officer with the Education Department said that “backlog” was not a list of work needing immediate attention. 

“It represents a budget allocation to bring parts of buildings nearing the end of life back to new.”

HOW YOUR SCHOOL RATES

Full list of maintenance backlog at Mountains schools.

Blackheath Public $294,232

Blaxland East Public $504,359

Blaxland High $155,095

Blaxland Public $110,723

Faulconbridge Public $450,671

Hazelbrook Public $105,017

Katoomba High $677,217

Katoomba North Public $230,789

Katoomba Public $366,991

Lawson Public $170,134

Mt Victoria Public $64,867

Springwood High $524,877

Springwood Public $224,001

Warrimoo Public $138,253

Wentworth Falls Public $356,699

Winmalee High $45,039

Winmalee Public $394,178

Total: $4,813,142