Capital repairs were not completed in 84 schools in Russia by the beginning of the school year, said Mikhail Kuznetsov, head of the executive committee of the All-Russian People's Front.
Overhaul of Schools is Under Government’s Control
“Now there is a meeting of the president with the government, where our report on the number of schools where capital repairs has not been finished by September 1 is presented. There are 84 such schools out of 2,200 that were declared for capital repair. On the one hand, the number is not too big, but on the other hand, there are 84 schools, where the kids could not go to school on September 1,” said Kuznetsov.
President Vladimir Putin instructed the Ministry of Education together with the regions to monitor the completion of major repairs of schools. The report on the work done should be submitted by October 31. Head of the Ministry of Education Sergei Kravtsov and top officials of the regions were put in charge.
In addition, it is recommended to take measures to bring to responsibility contractors who have violated the terms of contracts for the overhaul of school buildings, if such work was not completed by the beginning of the school year. A report on this should be submitted by November 30.
What's Wrong With Contractors?
There are plenty of unscrupulous contractors. For example, in Volgograd, the contractor is accused of embezzling 24 million rubles ($391,152.) The fact of fraud in the repair of one of the schools and oncology hospital was uncovered by the employees of the department of economic security of the Volgograd region.
The contractor received an advance of 24 million rubles, which was expected to be spent on replacing the roof of the oncology hospital and the overhaul of the school. Having received a considerable amount of money, the owner of the firm paid off his old debts on contracts, repaid loans in banks, and cashed out the remaining money through shell companies, the investigation believes. The founder asked the company itself to be declared bankrupt, having failed to fulfill the terms of the state contracts.
Volgograd school No.67 and the oncology hospital were supposed to be “repaired” by the Elmont company, the founder and director of which was Anatoly Volkov. The contractor could get to six years in prison.
The students of Tomsk School No.5 are also waiting to go to beautifully renovated classrooms. Repair work were not started as planned, because the contractor could not get a positive opinion on the reliability of the estimated cost.
As previously reported in the press service of the Mayor's Office of Tomsk, the overhaul of school No.5 was planned for 2022. The amount of the contract was about 205 million rubles ($3.34 mln), the work had to be completed by December 2022.
“Now parents are concerned that children are forced to squat in other schools while no repairs are visible in their school. It turned out that the contractor that made the design and estimate documentation could not get a positive conclusion on the reliability of the estimated cost. Without this conclusion, the builders cannot go to the site,” said the speaker of the City Duma Chingis Akataev.
According to him, now the administration is negotiating with TGAU and Tomskgosekpertiza. “Both of these organizations accuse each other of incompetence. I would like to appeal to both contractors: it is time to sit down at the negotiating table and agree point by point what needs to be corrected to make everything work,” said Akataev. As assured by the Mayor's office, the repair work shall begin by December 2022.
In Bashkiria, the failure to overhaul schools turned into ridiculous fines issued to contractors. Philcom, which failed to repair Lyceum No.1 in the village of Bolsheustikinskoye on time, was fined by the court. The press service of the regional prosecutor's office reported that “the contract with the company worth more than 46 million rubles ($749,708) was signed in March 2022. The work was to have been completed by August 25. However, by that date the construction firm had not fulfilled its obligations. The prosecutor's office initiated an administrative case. The penalty was just 30,000 rubles ($488.94.)
According to Olga Kazakova, coordinator of the direction of the people's program ‘Modern education and advanced science’ and chairwoman of the State Duma Committee on Education, this register of unfair contractors should be sent to the FAS.
“If the contractor does not work, does not increase the number of people at the site, if the case does not move anywhere, we obviously need to put it on the list, the register of unfair contractors. Today it is done by the customer, I suggest that on the platform of the United Russia party we conduct analysis if we are really convinced that the contractor has broken the terms without any reason, I propose to make this list and also send it to the FAS,” said Kazakova.
In addition, she suggested directing the amounts of penalties and fines imposed for failure to meet repair deadlines, for the development of those schools, which builders have not repaired on time. “Although the number of schools where there is a delay in terms is small, we must exclude even isolated cases of such attitude to socially important objects,” said Kazakova.
Bashkiria Takes Wooden Spoon
The situation with educational facilities in Bashkiria is extremely negative. More than 14 facilities have still not completed major repairs, and the deadline for their completion was postponed to October 1.
In the meantime, 5 schools have not been built. Kushnarenkovsky, Mechetlinsky, Krasnokamsky, Aurgazinsky, and Belokataysky districts are the places where schoolchildren are forced to study according to an individual program from September 1. Some were sent to study online, and some took advantage of Plan B: students go to school in a nearby village or the authorities arranged for training at a nearby boarding school, said district heads.
This is just a small part of those districts where the program of school overhaul was failed and where children did not go to school on September 1. The situation in the region is extremely critical, financial resources for school repairs were allocated through programs of the United Russia party and federal sources.
On August 22, the government of Bashkortostan actually stated the failure of this program at an emergency meeting. Bashkir officials failed to spend 2 billion rubles ($32.6 mln), leaving thousands of Bashkir schoolchildren without September 1.
Bashkiria's Prime Minister Andrei Nazarov instructed to plan the work, set deadlines for its completion and determine where the children will study if the schools aren't repaired in time.
“It's a bad sign that we can't do it in time. There's money but no opportunity or desire to do it. The alarm should be sounded earlier, not a week, but several months in advance. As for contractors we shouldn't choose contractors, who do not know how to work. If they can not draw up documents without any problem what miracle did you expect from them?” Nazarov asked indignantly.
Nizhny Novgorod is Second Worst
Renovated classrooms at school No.167 in Nizhny Novgorod were supposed to welcome students back in 2020, but this is the seventh time the work has been disrupted. All this time, the children have been forced to live in other educational institutions, sometimes quite far from home.
The problem is that school No.75, where the children were transferred to, is three kilometers away from schhol No.167. The way goes through a busy Kuzbasskaya street and an industrial zone. Parents cannot send their children neither on foot, nor by a rare bus, so for the third year in a row they have to reconfigure their work schedule to give them a ride.
Pupils of school No.167 were let down by the first contractor, Tomsk Design and Construction Company Horizon, the contract with which was signed in July 2020. The company never fulfilled its obligations, and the contract was terminated at the beginning of winter.
The new contractor was EconStroyServis, which promised to finish the work by July 1, 2021. But the result was the same: the deadlines were constantly shifting, and the company was far behind schedule. The repairs were not completed by September, the end of the fall, the end of last year or the summer of this year.
By law, all kinds of repairs are not allowed in the presence of children on the premises. This means that during this time, students of School No.167 will again have to go to another educational institution, where, as the mayor's office assures, there are enough places for them.
“In school No.75 education is carried out in two shifts,” said added the city administration’s representative. “Five classes of 32 will be taught in the second shift from September 1, 2022.” However, neither children nor parents share this optimism.
The overhaul of Nizhny Novgorod school No.100, which was supposed to resume its work last May, also did not happen due to a bad project. As in the case of the school No.167, they “forgot” to include some of the work, such as repairs to the ventilation system, video surveillance, access control and fire alarm systems. A new three-month contract was signed only at the end of July.
As for the school No.73, there is no deadline called for it now at all. Just like last year, students of the school will be distributed to the neighboring schools No.139, 74 and 64.
Time will tell how long the students will sit at their desks in schools other than their own. One thing is clear: these are not the children of the contractors who go to the elite schools. And the rest... the contractors don't care about the rest of the children.
* The Bashkort public association is recognized as extremist organization, forbidden in the Russian Federation by the decision of the Supreme Court of Bashkortostan Republic of 16.09.2020