Education Department executives have confirmed backlog maintenance in government schools was a massive $172 million as at the end of last month.
Chief Executive Keith Bartley told the Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee there had only been an improvement of about $18 million from the 2010 backlog maintenance figure of $190 million.
“Education Minister Jay Weatherill needs to explain why after more than $944 million has been spent on schools as part of the Building the Education Revolution, there has only been an $18 million reduction in backlog maintenance,” Shadow Finance Minister Rob Lucas said.
“Mr Weatherill has been claiming for years now that the $944 million was being targeted for maintenance, painting, minor repairs and replacement of poorly maintained buildings with brand new facilities.
“These figures raise serious questions about the financial management practices of Mr Weatherill and the Department of Education and Children’s Services.
It seems only a left-wing Labor Minister like Mr Weatherill could spend $944 million on school facilities yet only achieve an $18 million reduction in backlog maintenance.”
It is likely the Budget and Finance Committee will pursue an explanation from Education Department executives at future meetings. Other evidence this week included:
• Total budget savings of $257 million over four years need to be found by DECS, peaking at $81 million per year by 2014-15.
• $500,000 cut in security grants to schools used to erect fencing to reduce vandalism costs.
• $470,000 funding cut for the SA Centre for Leaders in Education program.
• DECS took on notice whether there had been a $250,000 cut in the Responsible Gambling program and a $170,000 cut in the Drug Education in schools program.
• In 2011 the number of surplus teachers has fluctuated between 28 and 36 FTE.
• DECS is currently reviewing and “refreshing” its “managing poor performance” scheme.
• DECS took on notice whether schools would be charged full cost recovery for swimming pool chemicals at an extra cost of $160,000 to schools.