Parents query costs blowout
FOUR schools on the Northern Rivers are at the centre of the costs scandal that is plaguing the Federal Government’s Building the Education Revolution project (BER).
Tabulam, Upper Main Arm, Caniaba and Durrumbil public schools are among 10 primary schools in NSW that are being charged an identical amount – $1,303,505.22 – by the managing contractor, the Reed Group.
Although such figures are averaged out for ease of accounting, parent groups in the region say the costs still represent a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money and a bonanza for Reed – one of seven managing contractors in the State.
The school projects were costed at $850,000, but a slew of additional fees add $453,505 to the bill.
Included in this is an incentive fee of $7314.38 for delivering the libraries on budget and on time, yet delays in delivery have been a common complaint throughout the Northern Rivers.
Caniaba Public School was supposed to be able to move into its new administration building and library in the first weeks of the school year.
The buildings remain unfinished months later. The disappointment didn’t stop there.
The school had been promised a water tank and solar panels as part of the BER makeover, P&C president Tania Harvey said.
“Then we were told that the project had gone over budget and these were scratched off the list,” she said.
“There could have been a lot of money saved if there hadn’t been so much bureaucracy involved,” Ms Harvey said.
Principals at the schools were unwilling to speak to the media, despite assurances to The Northern Star from the Education Department that they were free to speak.
But P&C associations have complained of builders having their ‘snouts in the trough’ – though there is no suggestion of wrongdoing.
The Reed Group has welcomed the Federal Government Taskforce, set up to ensure schools are getting value for money under the BER economic stimulus program.