Thursday, March 25, 2010

We paid $900,000 for this?

An absolute scandal:

More Ruddy waste - scandalous in scope:

When the community at the Nashdale Public School, near Orange, 250km west of Sydney, learned that it had qualified for the federal stimulus funding in March last year, a steering committee was set up and a local builder charged with providing costings and concept drawings to overhaul the school’s ageing facilities.

That builder, Bruce Hackett, estimated it would cost $740,000 to substantially replace the existing school with two large brick buildings - one a 25m x 12m block consisting of three classrooms and a library; the other a 15m x 12m administration centre including a staff room, principal’s office, sick bay, interview room and toilets. Mr Hackett’s written quote, obtained by The Australian, includes disabled facilities and ramps, verandas, reverse-cycle airconditioning and floor coverings, but not furniture. The school planned to retain a demountable classroom and the old library building, erected in 1888.

However, Nashdale’s P&C president June Coleman [pictured above with the demountable] said the school was told by officials from the NSW Department of Education and Training that it could not “self-manage” the project and proceed with Mr Hackett’s quote as it did not have 10 per cent of the allocated budget of $900,000 already set aside in a trust account.

As a result, the school was forced to proceed with the managing contractor, Laing O’Rourke, and a cookie cutter building design. Under those new plans the school could afford only one modular double classroom, costed at $907,000.

“It beggars belief,” Mrs Coleman said. “We’re a small school, just 60-odd children, as if we have $90,000 sitting idle in a bank account. And now, look at what we’re getting.

“There is so much more that could have been done for this money to benefit our kids. It’s scandalous.”
This is just one example among scores. (UPDATE: Here’s just a few others.) Now here’s Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s spin:
JULIA Gillard says she is open to tightening the guidelines of her $16 billion schools building program but has passionately defended its role in sparing Australia from a devastating recession

“It was right economically. It was right for the education revolution and for the future for Australian kids we’re trying to create.”
That big-charging builder favored by the Government, Laing O’Rourke, has interesting connections to NSW Labor:
Josh Murray worked [as chief of staff] for Mr Iemma as premier and was chief of staff to John Watkins as transport minister. It is understood he met the former head of the Sydney Metro Authority, Les Wielinga, several times to discuss a bid by his employer, the construction company Laing O’Rourke.
(Thanks to reader Mark.)

That’s better - but does this school actually need four new classrooms, and, if so, why wasn’t that offered first?

NSW Education Minister Verity Firth this morning told Ray Hadley’s 2GB the Hastings Public School at Port Macquarie would instead have four classrooms built.

The school shot to prominence after it was revealed last week that a similar structure had been built for $78,000 in 2003.

Posted via email from Garth's posterous

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