The one-pupil school isn’t getting any money after all
Drifiting off during Question Time yesterday it was tempting to wonder what Evesham State School looked like and what its one student might do with a $250,000 library all to herself.
What if the one student at this school is some kind of genius who needs to read 35 books each afternoon Good Will Hunting style?
Well, after contacting Evesham State School in remote central Queensland it turns out it hasn’t received a cent of the fabled $250,000 and, according to its principal and teacher, it won’t receive any of it.
For those who don’t know about it this school it has become the foundation of the Coalition attack on Julia Gillard over misdirected stimulus spending.
Evesham State School in western central Queensland with one enrolled student apparently received $250,000 worth of funding for a new library.
For the record, I didn’t think Julia Gillard handled this issue particularly well on Monday.
The Coalition’s Education spokesman Chris Pyne went on the attack over the issue again yesterday demanding the Government show the cost benefit analysis that “justified this wasteful spending.”
But the strange thing about the supposed stuff-up is that according to the school’s principal and teacher, Rosemary Winterbotham, Evesham hasn’t received a cent and now thinks it won’t receive any.
“We haven’t received a cent of that money . . . and I don’t think we’re going to. The whole thing is a massive beat up. This has nothing to do with the school,” Ms Winterbotham told The Punch.
Ms Winterbotham wouldn’t comment as to whether she had been told by the Government that the school was no longer going to receive the funding.
The Deputy Prime Minister said the school was currently undergoing an evaluation as to whether it would be merged as a means of justifying the apparent grant, but according to Rosie it’s not entirely clear that’s going to happen either.
“Yeah I don’t know if that’s going ahead,” she said.
According to Rosie the drought in the area has left the school with a sole student, reportedly a girl in year three.
“We run a very normal school and do our best to provide a normal education for the student and the student is doing very well.
“Two years ago we had 14 students but because of the drought a lot people have left,” she said.
Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull yesterday announced that it would refer the schools spending to the Senate’s education committee on top of the Auditor-General report into the program:
“We will seek today to refer this schools stimulus debacle to the Senate Education Committee to examine line by line the Julia Gillard Memorial Assembly Hall program, to identify the waste and mismanagement, and to hold the Government to account as it spends tax payers’ dollars.”
Well fair enough. But the net effect in this instance, and others where the funding decision was patently ridiculous, is going to be that the federal and state governments will make sure these schools don’t actually receive any money.
So the Coalition will struggle to point to wasted spending, only bad allocations that were later withdrawn. Of course if media and opposition hadn’t drawn attention to these decisions in the first place then maybe the money would have actually been spent.
But the likelihood of exposing a school where one student has a 20,000 book library, an Olympic pool and state of the art hand-ball court because of stimulus largess are going to be pretty slim, leaving the Coalition in a position where it has wasted everyone’s time and money on another inquiry.
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