Berlin’s government members have to be prepared for full mailboxes: the state parents’ committee called on all parents’ representatives on Wednesday to protest against the planned cuts in school construction and school renovations with a large mail campaign. The reason for this is a Senate meeting on September 6th, at which decisions are to be taken on investment planning for 2022 to 2026.
But not only the parent committees are alarmed. Rather, the “Schools must be different” initiative and the Education and Science Union (GEW) warned against savings at the expense of school buildings. They referred to a current report by the Senate Department for Education to the House of Representatives.
It proves a mathematical shortage of more than 20,000 school places – half each in primary and secondary schools. This is the first time it has become known to what extent the pupils have to move closer together so that compulsory schooling can be implemented at all.
It is particularly tight in Pankow, Marzahn-Hellersdorf, Spandau and Lichtenberg, where arithmetically 1000 to 2000 places are missing. What that means varies from school to school. The classes are often fuller than the guide size suggests.
Other consequences include that the children have to eat in five or six shifts in dining rooms that are too small, that the schoolyards become too narrow or that the specially equipped specialist rooms – for example for art or music lessons – or after-school rooms are dissolved and converted into normal classrooms Need to become.
Since these last reserves have now been used up in many places, it is currently not possible, as reported, to offer more than 1,000 refugees a place at school. To ensure that such bottlenecks no longer arise in the future, the new forecast by the education administration in the said Senate report takes into account an “uncertainty reserve” for the first time, which the education city councilor of Marzahn-Hellersdorf, Torsten Kühne (CDU), expressly praised on request.
There are also districts that have a slight overhang of rooms. But even this does not necessarily mean relaxation. For example, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg’s education councilor Andy Hehmke (SPD) pointed out that there was a calculated overcapacity at primary schools in Kreuzberg. In fact, most of these capacities are not free at all, but cannot be used at the moment due to construction work.
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“Here, shortages are simply managed at the expense of everyone involved in schools,” commented Philipp Dehne, a spokesman for the “Schools must be different” initiative, about the lack of school places. With the current planning, by 2026, i.e. at the end of the legislative period, there would still be a lack of more than 10,000 school places, he calculated.
The example of the Anna Lindh School, which was infested with mold, has just shown what savings in investments in school construction and renovation lead to. As reported, their approximately 700 children will have to move into an office building. It starts next week. They are currently housed provisionally in the district.
In view of the protests and criticism, the Senate Department for Education explained how the calculated deficit of currently 20,000 places came about. According to this, all the targets that Berlin has set itself in terms of building standards are included in the monitoring report mentioned – from all-day operation to inclusion and accessibility to climate protection.
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These standards were decided by parliament. The report also takes into account the need for schools that are planned in connection with new urban districts and large housing areas. However, the authority also pointed out that around 25,000 school places had been created as a result of the Berlin School Building Campaign (BSO) since 2016.
Without the BSO and school renovation measures, “the calculated deficit would be 45,000 to 50,000 places,” the authority clarified. So that new school places could be created as quickly as possible, “talks were being held with the Senate Department for Finance”.