Less than half of the €30 million for ventilation works to reach schools
The government approved €30 million in supplemental budget resources to improve ventilation systems in schools and kindergartens, but local municipality governments will only allocate €13.4 million to ventilation systems, spending the rest on sidewalks and street lighting.
It became clear during the coronavirus pandemic, the ventilation systems of 250 of the 800 educational establishments in Estonia are not up to date and need to be improved in preparation for the next potential coronavirus wave.
The government has allocated €30 million to local municipality governments for investments, issuing a recommendation to use the supplemental budget for school and kindergarten ventilation system improvement. The allocation can still be used for construction works, reconstruction works and renovation works in all sectors, however.
Ministry of Education and Research public asset management department head Indrek Riisaar said the due date of the supplemental budget hindered the ability to work on ventilation systems, because projects take a long time to draw up and several local municipality governments intend to do that using other resources.
"Local municipality governments were left with a choice. Since it is money from the 2021 state budget, then local municipalities did not use it for ventilation system development, although they have promised to use their own resources to improve ventilation systems as this supplemental budget opens some other budget lines," Riisaar said.
Some local governments have decided to construct a stadium for the school, others will develop new heating solutions, some will direct the money at road construction.
The €30 million allocated for school and kindergarten ventilation system development is not the only measure, which aims to solve the ventilation issue. The education ministry allocated €2.6 million to local municipality governments to improve general school ventilation systems and acquire CO2 detectors.
"This money can be used for that purpose until the end of 2022," Riisaar noted. The ministry is also drawing up a ventilation system and energy efficiency improvement measure totaling €15 million.
"We have also asked local municipality government for additional information about their resource allocation and why they have not allocated more for schools," Riisaar said, adding that the developing modern ventilation systems for the entire school network would cost €350 million.
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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste