Tamworth schools received a much needed boost on Wednesday when a $5.4 million fund was announced to address the ongoing maintenance backlog.
NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes made the announcement at Tamworth Public School, alongside Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson who has been lobbying the government to address the problem in the electorate.
While the primary school will be receiving $175,000 of the funds to address part of a $555,000 backlog, the remainder of the money will be distributed in “a strategic life cycle approach on a needs basis.”
The funding is part of a statewide push to arrest the growing backlog, which is estimated to be $775 million.
“Across the state we are talking about $390 million over two years, and that is a tripling of what we saw under the previous government,” Mr Stokes said.
“The vast majority of schools will get at least some of their issues addressed through this hit of funding across the state – it is a significant boost.”
Recently Tamworth High School was granted $700,000 to start working through a backlog of $2.4 million, the fourth highest in the state, and while these recent announcements will be music to the ears of many principals around the region, the fact remains that many schools will still be short of necessary maintenance funding.
Tamworth High are still in need of $1.7 million, while Farrer is behind by over $1.5 million, and Oxley High $1.25 million, and while the bigger schools obviously have the bigger backlogs, it has been the smaller schools that have been missing out the most.
Documents obtained under freedom of information laws show that five small schools in the region would have a backlog lasting over 20 years at the current rate of funding.
Tambar Springs only has a backlog of $71,219, but at the current rate of funding will not be able to clear that for 24 years, while Somerton (22), Nowendoc (21), Curlewis (21) and Yarrowitch (20) Public Schools are also facing over two decades of sub-standard facilities.
Mr Anderson said the funding announcement was a step in the right direction.
“I won’t sit by and watch our schools miss out on any funding that may potentially clear the backlog and continue to upgrade our schools,” Mr Anderson said.