A massive £149 million school building programme is proposed, as part of Hampshire County Council's Children's Services Capital budget 2014-17.
One of the largest investments ever, it aims to ensure there is a school place for every child in Hampshire to meet the huge increase in demand - both at primary and secondary level. It will also provide a big boost for the economy through jobs and materials in the construction industry.
The proposals were considered, by the Children and Young People Select Committee before the Executive Lead Member for Children's Services made the recommendations to the Leader and Cabinet yesterday, 22 January 2014.
Executive Lead Member for Children's Services, Councillor Keith Mans, said: "This is a further substantial programme of investment that is being proposed and, if agreed, will be extremely good news for schools and children in Hampshire. We are acutely aware of the increasing need for additional primary school places due the rising birth rate and more families moving in to the county, attracted by the quality of education in Hampshire. Capital investment is essential if we are to meet this need and the local authority capital grants announced by the Secretary of State for Education are welcomed."
Councillor Peter Edgar, Executive Member for Education, added: "Our objective is to deliver quality education locally near to where children live and where parents want them to go to school. We have already provided more than 900 additional new places at schools including: Pilgrims Cross in Andover; Cornerstone at Whiteley; Bramley Church of England Primary School in Tadley; and Cupernham Infant and Junior School in Romsey; but we know that up to 8,000 places are needed over the next few years.
"Aside from the quality of buildings in recently completed projects, what has impressed me is how staff from children's services have worked closely with colleagues in property services, the schools and their communities to achieve the best solutions for all concerned. It has also brought home to me the financial gains to be had in terms of schools saving on their running costs, for example energy savings as a result of more efficient buildings, allowing more of the schools' budgets to go into teaching."
The total capital programme of over £237million, includes funding proposals to ensure that existing school buildings are maintained in good condition together with other improvements on school sites and better provision for pupils with special educational needs. Investment is also proposed to upgrade school kitchen and dining facilities to accommodate an increased take up of school meals, following the Government's initiative to provide free school meals for all children in their first three years of school.