Labor will spend $100 million dismantling sweatbox demountables in schools if they win March election

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Originally published: The Daily Telegraph, January 28 2015

By Miles Godfrey

LABOR will spend $100 million getting rid of “second rate” sweatbox demountable classrooms and libraries if it wins the March state election.

Opposition Leader Luke Foley announced the policy on Wednesday and said about 4500 demountables, many of them without air conditioning or modern facilities, are currently being used in NSW.

The funding would be used to replace about 340 of the temporary structures with bricks and mortar classrooms over 10 years. Beverly Hills Girls’ High School is said to have a whopping 27 demountables currently in use.

“This morning, over 80,000 public school children on their first day back at school, are sitting in demountable classrooms,” Mr Foley said.

“Most parents would prefer that their children learn in permanent classrooms which are air conditioned, modern and fit for purpose.”

Mr Foley said schools with the oldest and greatest number of demountables will receive funding first.

Opposition education spokesman Ryan Park, a former classroom teacher, described demountables as second rate and very uncomfortable.

“There often not only air conditioned, they also don’t have the IT capacity to handle smartboards, iPads, laptops etc,” he said.

“Schools now are very different places to what they were ten years, 25, 30 years ago when some of these demountables were put on site.”

Mr Foley said funding for the policy would come from his yet-to-be-announced infrastructure strategy.

About $50 million of the cash would be made available in the first three years of the 10-year project.

The opposition leader said there was a place for demountables in some circumstances such as during fires or floods.

But he said they should be the exception and not the rule.

Mr Foley accused the Baird state government of scrapping Labor’s old demountable replacement program.

Originally published as: Labor will spend $100 million dismantling sweatbox demountables in schools if they win March election