Minister visits hail damaged school
By Alex Easton
ICE lay in clumps two house bricks high when Steve Jones got to Richmond River High School two days after this month's hailstorm.
But it wasn't the ice the school's computer co-ordinator was worried about.
The storm caused extensive damage, smashing about 375 windows and flinging broken glass and giant hailstones through thankfully empty classrooms. It wrecked about 38 computers.
Broken windows backed by wooden boards still adorned the front of the school yesterday when NSW Education Minister John Della Bosca arrived to announce new air-conditioners for the school.
Mr Della Bosca expected damage when he arrived to inspect normal repair work at the 90-year-old school, but he was obviously surprised at the extent of storm damage.
School staff said the Department of Education and Training was trying to replace the windows, but the damage across Lismore from the storm meant the city now had a glass shortage.
Despite the level of storm damage, school principal Neville Ryan and P&C president Cheryl Amor had other issues to press on the Minister.
Both said the age of the school building, its status as a heritage building and the fact the area was flood-prone meant Richmond River High's existing maintenance budget was not keeping up with the amount of work needed to keep the school and facilities in good shape.
Problems ranged from cracks in the buildings from the shifting pug soils it was built on, to rusted roofs and treacherous footpaths.
Mr Della Bosca said NSW had increased funding for school maintenance, but agreed many still struggled.
The department was reviewing school maintenance programs to see if the way money was spent could be improved and how it was allocated to schools with unique issues.