A primary school oval is nearly unusable because an old asbestos-coated underground watering system would cost up to $1 million dollars to remove, an inquiry has been told.
Latham Primary School Parents and Citizens secretary Catherine Coe told the Legislative Assembly inquiry into school infrastructure that oval's watering system was not working and the sports ground had fallen into disrepair during Canberra's hot, dry summers.
"We have the asbestos coated pipes underneath our oval and at the moment they've effectively rendered the oval unusable for portions of the year," Ms Coe said.
The inquiry was told the Belconnen school does have access to playing fields next to the campus but it wasn't feasible to use them for every recess and lunchtime. The asbestos pipes have prevented the installation of demountable buildings because it would require digging into the ground.
Ms Coe said the school also had lead paint on old heaters dating from the 1970s scattered throughout the school and that the roof often leaked on rainy days.
Meanwhile the community hub building that is used by the Latham P&C and the YMCA after school care program has asbestos in the flooring and lead paint.
The Education Directorate has agreed to remove the hazardous materials from the floor but the P&C were required to use all of its $20,000 grant meant to renovate the entire hub just to replace the floor.
"I think the Education Directorate is aware that this is there... they know that there's asbestos pipes there, they know about the lead paint, they know about the asbestos flooring in the hub. It just feels like everything takes so long," Ms Coe said.
"And I know that government's not exactly known for selling at cracking pace, but it could go a little faster maybe."
She said the principal had communicated with the P&C about the hazardous materials but parents had no direct communication from the Education Directorate on the infrastructure concerns.
"They don't communicate with us, they go through the principals and all of the communication falls to the schools. And I understand that there's this focus on schools' independence because principals, educational leaders understand what their schools need.
"But I think that there's also a role for leadership in the Education Directorate and that seems to be lacking at the moment."
Ms Coe said capacity calculations did not take into account the needs of students with disabilities.
Her daughter could not fit properly in the door of her classroom in her wheelchair, while students with autism struggled in noisy classrooms where up to 80 students could be in the one space.
Representatives from Harrison and Majura Primary School P&C Associations told the inquiry about capacity problems at their schools. Harrison School has had demountables on campus since it opened while Majura Primary had four temporary classrooms installed this year.
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