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2000 school buildings unsafe: report

STUDENTS are being taught in decaying classrooms and almost a third of Victorian government schools have buildings that need urgent repairs.

A scathing report by the acting Victorian Auditor-General, Peter Frost, said the federal government's Building the Education Revolution and former state government's Victorian Schools Plan had poured $4.5 billion into the state's schools, but many could not afford extra maintenance costs.

He said the programs had more than doubled excess school space but the new classrooms required ''additional maintenance funding to remain in good condition''.

He said schools received less than a third of the funding they needed to keep buildings up to scratch and $420 million was needed to fix the state's decaying schools.

Mr Frost found 2042 buildings across 505 schools needed urgent work to stay safe.

He said the Department of Education was not managing school buildings efficiently or cost-effectively and schools were chronically underfunded.


Australian Education Union Victorian president Meredith Peace said parents had the right to send their children to a safe and modern school.

''Schools don't have the resources required for the maintenance so use Band-Aid solutions to fix problems,'' she said.

''Principals are left with the difficult decision of figuring out whether to fix the heater or fix the leaking roof.''

She said a number of schools had closed off old buildings because they could no longer afford to maintain them.

Melba College, which opened this year, might be one of Victoria's newest high schools but its campuses still have buildings from the 1950s.

Principal Terry Bennett said the new school, the result of a merger between Croydon and Maroondah secondary colleges, was intended to be virtually rebuilt under a $100 million regeneration project promised by the former government.

''The assessment was made that there was not much worth keeping,'' Mr Bennett said.

There were serious holes in some of the floors and cupboards were missing doors, he said.

''This is true of a lot of schools - there just hasn't been the funding and infrastructure available to get us up to speed.''

Greensborough College principal John Conway said cladding was falling off and floorboards had collapsed three times. ''The building is slumping, we have had floors collapse,'' he said. ''It happened once when students were at school. We lost a school bag down there - but no students.''

Education Minister Martin Dixon said on Wednesday he would move forward $51.5 million of funding for repairs at more than 200 schools.

He said a new capital works model would ensure the BER did not leave schools with unsustainable maintenance costs. But federal Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten said the BER had given Victorian schools a share in $3.8 billion of investment in first-rate infrastructure.

Mr Shorten said the Baillieu government had cut half a billion dollars from education funding and had ''no sustained, long-term plan for Victoria's schools''.

Opposition education spokesman James Merlino said the state government had neglected schools.

''They've ripped up the Victorian schools plans, which was a plan to upgrade every single government school across the state.''