A Labor government led by Luke Foley will take back $300 million from the Berejiklian Government’s multi-billion dollar Sydney stadium splurge - to air condition hundreds of NSW public schools for the first time, many of those in the Hunter.
Announcing the policy on Sunday at the end of his Schools and Hospitals before Stadiums tour, Mr Foley said Labor’s Cool Schools policy includes a guarantee of air conditioning in all new schools built under Labor.
Labor will invest an initial $300 million to air condition thousands of classrooms so that students can enjoy the best learning facilities possible.
Under the Liberal-National Coalition government policy, only 148 schools in NSW are currently entitled to air cooling not air conditioning, and after seven years in office it does not even have a record of how many schools actually have air conditioning.
The Liberals and Nationals only provide “air cooling” to schools with mean maximum January temperatures of 33 degrees Celsius or above.
In the Upper Hunter for example, despite the vast majority of schools recording average maximum January temperatures of above 29 degrees, the current policy does not guarantee air conditioning to a single school, leaving many P&Cs to fundraise for themselves. Under Cool Schools, many Hunter schools will be given air conditioning upgrades for the first time.
Even new schools under the Coalition have been designed without air conditioning. Labor would ensure that the new school at Medowie, for example, will be air conditioned on the day it opens.
Labor will immediately conduct an audit of all the state’s more than 2,000 primary and secondary schools to give priority to schools with the hottest temperatures first.
It is expected that up to 600 schools will benefit from Labor’s Cool Schools package and that schools in the Hunter, North Coast, Western and Southwestern Sydney, will be among the first to receive air conditioning.
Severe heat affects learning childrens’ learning outcomes and behaviour. Children cannot learn effectively in a sweltering classroom.
The costs of running air conditioning will be partially offset by Labor’s commitment to continue the roll out of solar panels on school rooves.
The roll out will be a welcome relief to Hunter parents and students who regularly suffer through high temperatures that disrupt learning.
Cool Schools is a first step towards Labor’s commitment to put schools and hospitals before stadiums.
Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley
“For the first time thousands of Hunter school children will get air conditioning.
“Throughout the state local P&Cs are currently forced to fundraise to pay for air conditioning at their school. That should not have to happen.
“Would you rather air condition private suites in Sydney stadiums or the classrooms where children to learn?”
Quotes attributable to the Shadow Minister for the Hunter Kate Washington
“Parents across the Hunter, hear regularly from their children, how hard their school day was because of sweltering classrooms.
“With a spate of school days over 40 degrees in the Hunter, our kids should be able to focus on learning, not survival.
“It’s time that Gladys Berejiklian put Hunter students before Sydney stadiums.”
This item was distributed as a media release on Sunday 25 March 2018.