NSW BUDGET 2017: Berejiklian unveils record school infrastructure spend

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Education Rob Stokes. PICTURE: Edwina Pickles
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Education Rob Stokes. PICTURE: Edwina Pickles

NEWCASTLE East Public School will receive a new hall and four other Hunter schools will receive funding as part of the Berejiklian government’s $2.2 billion budget splurge on education infrastructure.

The Premier and Education Minister Rob Stokes announced the new funding in the lead up to Tuesday’s budget, calling it the “biggest NSW government investment in education infrastructure in history”.

The funding will help to pay for 120 new and upgraded schools that the government says will create 32,000 more student places and 1500 new classrooms across the state, and brings total spending on new and upgraded schools to $4.2 billion to 2020-21.

In the Hunter the funding would go to five schools: Rutherford Public School, Belmont High School, Newcastle East Public, Nulkaba Public School and Callaghan College Jesmond Campus.

At Newcastle East a new school hall will be built, while at Rutherford Public and Belmont the schools will be expanded to address enrollment growth.

The funding will also be used for additional upgrades to schools in Maitland and Lake Macquarie to help address surging enrollments.

But Swansea Labor MP Yasmin Catley accused the government of recycling previous funding commitments. 

In 2015, before the last election, previous Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said the government would spend $148 million on education infrastructure, including at Belmont High School.

“This is the third year in a row that we’ve been told Belmont High School will receive much needed infrastructure upgrades,” she said.

“This is not a new announcement – this is a re-announcement.”

Education Minister Rob Stokes said NSW public schools were expected to enroll an additional 164,000 students by 2031, and these school projects will “provide improved and expanded learning environments for the students”.

“These projects will ensure students and staff have the resources they need to succeed in the 21st century,” Mr Stokes said.

However there won’t be any new schools built in the Hunter. Warnervale, on the Central Coast, was the closest to receive a new school.

Labor’s shadow minister for the Hunter, Kate Washington, said the funding was “insulting”.

Ms Washington has campaigned for a new high school in Medowie and said the government’s decision to overlook the project was “devastating”.

“When we have schools bursting at the seams and falling into disrepair, how can the government justify the pittance that's coming our way?” she said.