Illawarra schools missed out on a $400 million capital works program announced in the state budget to upgrade and provide new school facilities.
Keira MP and shadow education minister Ryan Park said he was disappointed that many of the region’s students would be forced to stay sitting in demountables ‘‘well past their used-by date’’ as a result.
‘‘We’ve got a large number of ageing demountables at schools in our region and I had hoped to see some funding to replace those,’’ Mr Park said.
‘‘The fact that there’s no money to help replace these, to help build new schools or new classrooms or to make new upgrades to schools in our region is very concerning.
‘‘It’s particularly concerning in growing areas like West Dapto where schools are already at capacity.’’
Mr Park had specifically hoped for some funding for an upgrade of Figtree High School.
‘‘This is a growing high school which is in desperate need of enhanced library facilities,’’ he said. ‘‘Despite this being a project nominated by the local department of education as a priority there’s been no funds allocated - not even some early planning money to get the project underway.’’
Mr Park was also disappointed that no allocation had been made in this budget to provide any of the 60 literacy and numeracy teachers promised for the Illawarra in 2010. ‘‘Only a handful have actually arrived in the region to date.’’
The Keira MP did welcome an injection of funding for the region’s higher education and training sector, with Illawarra Industry Training College receiving $1.3million.
It’s the remaining part of a total $5.4million grant which commenced in 2010 for the college, which offers students a pathway to TAFE courses.
‘‘I’m always keen to see TAFE receive additional funding,’’ Mr Park said.
‘‘However we do need to make sure TAFE is robust going forward and that it has adequate staffing.
‘‘The 2014-15 state budget sees another 375 TAFE teachers positions cut - taking the total jobs lost at TAFE to 1088 since the Liberal government came to power.’’
Mr Park said the budget also revealed deep cuts to TAFE infrastructure, with the capital works budget cut from $107million in 2013-14 to $76million this year.
However Minister for the Illawarra John Ajaka said Illawarra schools would share in the record spend of $14.4billion for education, training and early childhood education in 2014-15.
“An estimated $572million in recurrent funding has been allocated for education in the Illawarra which includes funding for the ‘Gonski’ Agreement,’’ Mr Ajaka said.
‘‘Education funding will deepen and accelerate significant reforms already underway including Great Teaching, Inspired Learning; Local Schools, Local Decisions and the needs based Resource Allocation Model.’’