Parents are worried a lack of funding and long term vision for school maintenance could put students and staff at risk, the peak body for ACT parents and citizens associations says.
During the recent election campaign ACT Labor promised to set up a taskforce within the Education Directorate which would have $15 million to spend on remediation of hazardous materials in public schools.
However, the funding to fast-track the removal of lead and asbestos in schools will not flow and the taskforce will not be set up until after the next budget is confirmed in February 2021.
ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations president Kirsty McGovern-Hooley said parents were concerned the program would not be enough to tackle the widespread issue of hazardous materials in schools.
"There are so many schools with asbestos and lead paint. Fifteen million dollars is a drop in the ocean compared to the work to be done to remove the materials.
"Parents are worried that rectification work only fixes what's crumbling or what is most immediately placing kids and staff at risk. We aren't getting ahead of this problem or planning long term.
"P&Cs have a long history of investing and supporting school infrastructure with fundraising, so the P&C Council would like to be part of this conversation."
Some public schools are preparing for capital works over the summer school holidays, however Ms McGovern-Hooley said the program of works lacked long-term vision and were in some cases band-aid solutions.
Some of the work includes:
- Arawang Primary School library will be relocated to the ground floor and a classroom will replace the existing space.
- Upgrade to administration building and new disability toilet at Calwell Primary School.
- Upgrades to the Margaret Hendry School outdoor sensory playground.
- Monash Primary's small group unit will get an automatic access door and internal view windows.
- UC Kaleen High School will have a new learning space for small groups, a new outdoor courtyard, fencing, new ground surface, a vertical garden, sensory stimulus areas and climbing rocks.
- Majura Primary School is receiving two double transportable buildings.
- Lift upgrades and a new classroom at Hawker College.
- Weetangera Primary School will have a space refurbished to create two new learning spaces.
A spokeswoman for Education Minister Yvette Berry said examples provided were not an exhaustive list of works and were planned up to four years in advanced as part of an $85 million school infrastructure program.
"The Education Directorate are constantly reviewing future needs of schools across the public systems," the spokeswoman said.
"ACT Labors commitments at the 2020 election demonstrate our long term vision for school infrastructure renewal."
The spokeswoman said hazardous materials were managed as part of existing maintenance funding in line with management plans.
"The $15 million will be in addition to this regular maintenance and upgrade funding to fast-track the removal of hazardous materials and provide a team to coordinate that work."
Ms Berry previously said there were 69 Canberra schools built before 1985 that had been identified as containing dangerous substances.
It followed the discovery of above-threshold levels of lead dust at four Canberra schools since July this year.