School classrooms and libraries in regional NSW will benefit from air conditioning following an unprecedented $500 million funding boost in this year’s State Budget.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro and Assistant Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell today announced the NSW Government’s Cooler Classrooms policy at Cowra High School in the Central West of NSW.

Mr Barilaro said the new funding would provide improved learning environments for up to 1000 NSW public schools, including many located in regional NSW.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates the Liberals & Nationals’ commitment to delivering first-class education facilities, because we know better classroom conditions lead to better learning,” he said.

“This commitment will improve the internal environmental quality of schools with ‘smart systems’ that offer heating, cooling, humidity control and outside fresh air to ensure students have healthy and comfortable learning environments.”

Mrs Mitchell said it is crucial for students to be comfortable in their learning environment.

“This historic Budget announcement will ensure that we can offer the best possible conditions for learning no matter the time of year,” she said.

“This investment will directly impact the success of a child’s education; it will help them perform better in exams and therefore give them a greater chance of a successful tertiary education and employment.”

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke was present at the announcement today and said she is excited that the electorate will benefit from the new policy.

“This announcement means more students in our electorate have access to a top-quality learning environment,” she said.

“This is something that parents and school communities in Cootamundra and right across the state have called for, so I am proud this Government is able to deliver this fantastic program.”

As well as providing air conditioning for existing schools, all new schools and school upgrades delivered from today will also have air conditioning installed in all classrooms and libraries. Today’s announcement also includes funding for the removal of gas heaters where new air conditioning is installed.

This investment will ensure that the NSW Government responds to the needs of students in not only the hottest parts of the State, but also in other areas across NSW, allowing even more schools to benefit from air conditioning than ever before.

It will look at other factors that influence how a classroom feels for students such as humidity, the local microclimate, design of the classroom and schools as well as the impact of hot days on students with special needs.

The $500 million Budget commitment would target schools with the greatest need in metropolitan, regional and remote areas. The funding will benefit hundreds more schools than Labor’s announcement earlier this year.