High construction costs postpone Tartu school renovations

Renovated Tartu Annelinn High School.
Renovated Tartu Annelinn High School. Source: Silver Siilak

Due to increased construction costs, several of Tartu's educational facilities won't be renovated until much later than expected. It will be another five years before some older buildings in critical state undergo renovations; some new buildings, meanwhile, may have to wait until at least 2040.

While the City of Tartu had previously planned to carry out a major overhaul of all school buildings by 2032, following the approval of the new budget strategy, the conclusion of planned renovations has been postponed by nearly ten years, said Tartu Deputy Mayor Priit Humal (Isamaa).

"For some, it's a year, for others, it's several years," Humal said. "Some buildings will have to wait longer depending on their position on the renovation schedule. In our current investment plan, we're looking at 2040+ for the last school building renovations."

The city intends to complete renovations currently already underway first. Renovation of Veeriku School, together with schools near the bottom of hte list, however, will be delayed, the deputy mayor added.

Ruth Ahven, principal of Veeriku School, said that the reconstruction of the school was initially scheduled for this year, but now under the new budgetary strategy has been delayed until 2027.

"This is the second time that the completion of the renovation has been delayed," Ahven said. "It is incredibly difficult to run a school in such a way — goals are being set and development plans drawn out, but then they just disappear into thin air. I understand that the war in Ukraine has hiked construction prices and so on, but we should still be setting our priorities straight. We say that education is our top priority, but when I look at what's happening, I am not seeing that."

Veeriku School is already in bad shape — the plaster is crumbling, and forced draught ventilation is needed. As the number of students has grown over the past decade, classrooms have even been set up in school lobbies, and there is now limited space for students to spend their break time.

Although the situation at Tartu Descartes School is somewhat better, the latter is going to have to wait longer before moving into their new spaces as well.

"The school's furniture, particularly the chairs, is in bad shape," said Jaan Reinson, principal of Descartes School. "The building itself is actually is acceptable."

When exactly renovations at several Tartu schools can begin is also dependent on whether the state will be able to cofinance the renovation of Kroonuaia School — which upon relocation to Ploomi 1 will be renamed Pärli School — with €3.9 million.

The city expects a response from the state regarding this financing before the end of the month.


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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