The Australian: Minister feels BER heat

November 9th, 2010 posted by


PARENTS are petitioning the Brumby government’s most vulnerable minister over a shortfall in a Building the Education Revolution project.

The $30,000 shortfall has left their children’s school without key infrastructure.

Pinewood Primary School is the second school in as many weeks to make very public pleas to its local members and opposition candidates in the middle of the Victorian election campaign.

The school, in the marginal seat of Mount Waverley — which Children’s Minister Maxine Morand holds by just 0.4 per cent — has spent months trying to negotiate funding to pay for a covered walkway, but to no avail.

School council president Tim Day said the school had been promised the walkway, which provides the only disabled access between buildings. However, delays meant it would no longer be funded by the $2.5 million the school received under the BER.

“When we wanted to start our project, the department kept saying, ‘no, no, no’, and when they eventually started, the costs of building had gone up,” he said.

“The school has already forked out tens of thousands of dollars for airconditioning, furniture and landscaping that had to come out of the budget.”

Mr Day said the discovery of asbestos in the construction phase did not help either but he said the corridor between the two wings was “critical” to the school.

“The weather really hits that part of the school, especially in winter,” he said.

Mr Day said they decided to get parents to sign a petition being sent to the government because they were told by Ms Morand “there was no more money”.

Opposition education spokesmen Martin Dixon said Pinewood Primary School was another example of BER mismanagement by the Brumby government.

“The school community is right to be frustrated,” he said.

A spokesman for Education Minister Bronwyn Pike said Pinewood had received $2.5m under the BER for classroom refurbishments. “Once the refurbishment is complete, any remaining money will be spent on projects that are of priority to the school,” he said.…/story-fn56ulhe-1225949637632

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