Students to swelter thanks to delays to aircon promise
STUDENTS are nearly 150 schools will sweat through their return to school, despite the Government promising just two months ago to fast track airconditioning for them over the summer break.
As Queensland swelters through another sticky summer with humidity levels on par with Singapore, The Courier-Mail can reveal work on just 142 of 301 target schools will be complete by the time children flood back into classrooms this week.
Another 14 schools are partially done, but students and teachers at the remaining 145 schools will have to wait while design and contracts are still worked out.
The Government announced it was fast tracking its airconditioning program in late November, bringing forward $25 million and spruiking the chance for 301 schools to benefit over the summer break.
At the time, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the announcement was "good news for tradies, especially over the Christmas, new year period where we can get hundreds of people into work over that period to get these schools, airconditioning done".
But the promise left schools scrambling to organise the work before the end of 2019, with many finding contractors weren't immediately available over the busy summer break.
Education Minister Grace Grace said the Government was "getting on with the job".
"The number of contracts awarded and the number of completed installations continues to grow every day, with local tradies working hard to get the job done," she said.
"One hundred and sixty-four schools will have new airconditioning units installed in classrooms for week one of the 2020 school year."
Ms Grace came under fire in mid-December after being unable to say how many schools would be airconditioned in an interview described as a "train wreck" by the Opposition.
She said "many of the 300" schools would be "getting done" over the Christmas break.
Then last week it was revealed only half of the schools had been done, with the Premier conceding "you need the staff and a lot of tradies were on leave but they're all going to be back and it's our priority for this year."
The funding is part of a $100 million Budget commitment announced last June which was to be spent over four years.
An audit of every school in the state was expected to be completed by the end of 2019, identifying schools that need to be cooled down.
The LNP has pledged $1.5 billion to aircondition every state school if elected at the October state election.