CHAOTIC SCHOOL SECURITY BLACKOUT COSTS MILLIONS

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Billions of dollars worth of school property is at risk because of the Baird Government’s botched roll-out of a new school security monitoring system.

Alarm systems at approximately 1800 schools on the new Telstra Secure wireless network are regularly failing to connect to a central security unit in Western Sydney which is supposed to monitor fires and break-ins. 

In a number of incidents uncovered by the NSW Opposition, the system failure has left all NSW schools unmonitored for entire weekends at a time – with security staff unaware if there was a break-in or a fire. 

In one incident, a fire caused by an electrical fault in Galston caused more than $2 million in damage as the blaze went undetected for hours. 

In another similar incident in Melville, an undetected arson attack destroyed a whole demountable containing two classrooms, a staff room, showers and specialist equipment – worth an estimated $2.5 million. 

A host of break-ins have also occurred and remained undetected by security staff until reported by cleaning staff days later. 

This has followed a direction to schools from the Department of Education demanding all traditional sirens and alarms be turned off.

The absence of any sort of back-up system means security staff often have no idea what is happening in schools outside of business hours.

The latest debacle follows hard on the heels of the Learning Management and Business Reform program – an IT system that has run $90 million over budget to cost half a billion dollars, and has been rolled out only one in ten NSW schools.

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Education Linda Burney:

“How is it that in 2015 a fire can rage for hours on end in a school without being detected?”

“This would send a shiver down any parent’s spine. It is downright catastrophic to think that the Baird Government effectively has no idea what’s happening in our schools outside of hours.”

“Missing in action Education Minister Adrian Piccoli has serious questions to answer about the student safety and billions of dollars of school property at risk under his watch.”