AEU win on utilities funding will benefit students


(Above) AEU SA Branch President Howard Spreadbury

The AEU welcomes the announcement by Education and Child Development Minister Susan Close that the state government is to fully fund utility costs for all South Australian public preschools and schools.

AEU SA Branch President Howard Spreadbury said that this is an area of preschool and school expenditure that has had a huge impact on site budgets for a very long time.  

“Principals, teachers and governing councils have been telling us for a number of years that they’ve been forced to re-direct funds away from much-needed programs and resources for students in order to meet the demands of paying the water, gas and electricity bills,” said Spreadbury.

The AEU has consistently raised this issue with the Education Department, pointing to a survey of preschools and schools which indicated shortfalls in the funding from DECD and the actual costs of utilities ranging from $2,700 for a metropolitan preschool to $81,000 for a country area school. 

“Our members have told us that these resources would have otherwise been used to employ additional support staff to support students with additional needs, purchase ICT and other resources, upgrade outdoor learning environments and alleviate the need for local fundraising,” said Spreadbury.

“This decision from the state government means that funding can now be returned to its best use – supporting the teaching and learning programs for our students.”

“Our members will also be pleased that the government has listened to the concerns of both the AEU and the union representing cleaners, United Voice, and will provide extra funding to schools so that cleaning doesn’t commence before 3.30pm.” 

“Up until now, cleaners have been forced to begin work before the school day finishes because working after 6.00pm would result in the accrual of overtime. The extra funding the government is providing will mean educators and students aren’t impacted by cleaning that’s taking place during school hours.”

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