Program 'lacks value for money'
THE minister charged with overseeing the Federal Government's $16 billion school halls program has conceded it “wasn't value for money” in some cases.
The Building the Education Revolution (BER) money is being spent on school facilities to stimulate the economy, but critics accuse the program of wasting money and being prone to rorting.
Tyalgum Public School is well aware of the program's waste, after the cost for its $850,000 demountable school library blew out to $1.35 million after a design mistake added $500,000 to the cost.
Simon Crean, who took over as education minister after Julia Gillard became prime minister, said there were problems.
“I think we have to acknowledge in some circumstances there wasn't value for money, and there was a concern that parent groups and schools didn't think their real concerns had been taken account of,” Mr Crean said.
Lismore MP Thomas George, whose electorate includes Murwillumbah, has written to the inquiry after P&C committees in his electorate told him of their concerns about value for money.
Mr George said yesterday public schools didn't get value for money compared to the private sector.
Comparing Tweed Valley College (TVC) to Tyalgum Public school, it was obvious which got the better value.
TVC built a multi-purpose school hall, with a stage and amenities for less than what the two-room demountable building at Tyalgum cost.
“They were able to do it themselves,” Mr George explained.
“There is not one principal that would say they don't need improvement in their school, but they are clearly saying, ‘we're not getting value for our dollar', and further, they weren't even encouraged to get value.
“In small places like Tyalgum with parents involved in the school, local builders could have done a better job and saved the school lots and lots of money which could have been spent on other jobs at the school.”