Kent faces £50m repair bill for schools, but just £3m is spent each year on maintenance
Kent schools have a £50m backlog of repairs but the county council is spending just £3m a year on routine maintenance.
Only the worst affected buildings and classrooms are being tackled, it's emerged.
Data released by the authority shows the county’s maintenance backlog stood at £52,120,250 when it last carried out an official condition survey of all its schools.
KCC to plough ahead with grammar school. Library picture
The figure excludes academy schools, which are not the responsibility of the council and now decide themselves how to allocate money to maintain and repair buildings.
The authority said that while £3m was allocated to planned work, £8m in total was spent each year taking into account emergency repairs and up-dating the survey.
The survey, which is carried out every three years but reviewed annually, shows Kent County Council identified £2.6m of urgent work where it considered buildings were in such a bad state of repair that there was a danger to children and staff.
A further £7m was identified as essential work that needed to be done within two years.
The plans include new schools. Thickstock image.
The maintenance programme focuses on ensuring schools are safe, warm and dry - giving greater priority to work such as boiler repairs, window replacements and fixing leaking roofs.
Of the £52m backlog, the bulk - some £37m - was for primary schools, where £6.6m was identified as work in the two highest priorities.
Nearly £30m of this was defined as longer-term work needed to prevent deterioration at schools where the condition of buildings was poor.
In secondary schools, the county council survey identified £10.4m of repair work.
Of this, £391,000 was considered urgent for buildings in a bad condition; £1.25m of work needed in two years and £10m considered desirable in the long term.
A KCC spokesman said: “Making sure that children learn in a safe environment is of vital importance.
"The maintenance arrangements and budget for maintenance in schools are set up to make sure that school buildings are kept in an appropriate condition.
"The county council works hard to make sure that all urgent works, such as boiler breakdowns, are addressed as quickly as possible.
"KCC spends £8m each year on carrying out its responsibilities for the school estate and uses capital funding from central government to carry out maintenance of local authority schools.”
“Making sure that children learn in a safe environment is of vital importance" - KCC spokesman
“Any situation that requires immediate attention in order to maintain a safe, secure school environment will be done as it is needed.”
Unions say the issue of crumbling schools is a long-standing one caused by under-investment.
John Walder, Kent NUT branch representative, said: “It goes back a very long time, partly because of the size of the budget and insufficient budgets. You can go round anywhere in the county and see schools in a very bad state.”
Stories you might have missed
- Click here for more news from across the county