On September 1, 2010, Esperanza Aguirre announced the fulfillment of a star promise : “The regional government is going to complete the effort of these seven years to eradicate the barracks and we are going to get all students to study in permanent facilities at the end of the year ”.
Of the 200 prefabricated classrooms that he found when he became president, only now remained in Batres, a town of 1,600 inhabitants south of Madrid. However, two courses and one more term still remained there and it was not until February 2019 that the lastfrom the region, those from the Neil Armstrong Institute in Valdemoro.
Eight years late, the barracks era is over, but it has only lasted 19 months. The Government of Isabel Díaz Ayuso has brought them back as a collateral effect of the covid. This course, 249 have been installed in 63 public schools and institutes , including Neil Armstrong himself, at a cost of 21.6 million euros.
At least 115 of these modules are in half-built centers, so parents and unions fear that once the pandemic is over, the barracks will be perpetuated.
The Ayuso government maintains that the only reason for his return is the virus. “One of the main measures against covid-19 is the drop in ratios . 7,500 new groups were created, which made it necessary to look for alternative spaces ”, explains a spokesperson for Education.
And weren’t there other solutions, such as building construction during the summer or using municipal buildings? Education claims to have allocated 20.3 million to 366 improvements in 301 centers – there are 3,650 in total – and that it is using 44 local facilities.
“The municipalities made many more available,” he admits, but “the centers considered that it was better to keep all the spaces within the educational facilities.”
The Platform for the Defense of Quality Public Educational Centers recognizes that “in some centers they were necessary for the unfolding”, but denounces that “in others they are being put as a patch taking advantage of the situation”.
Its president, Alberto Arkones Pelaz, gives as an example the Francisca de Pedraza institute in Alcalá de Henares, whose students go to class at La Garena school when their works have been paralyzed since autumn 2019.
“There, they have planted eight barracks.” What is most important to this platform, which brings together 107 parents’ associations, is that the classrooms have been bought, instead of renting them as before. “We fear that they intend to continue using them instead of finishing pending constructions or carrying out new ones”, agrees Teresa Jusdado, from UGT Madrid.
“All are new and bought, there is none rented or recycled,” confirms Education, which alleges that it decided to buy them because there were not for rent “classrooms of the quality of those that have been installed.”
“They did not comply with the technical code, they did not have adequate thermal insulation and they did not meet the characteristics for educational use.” Furthermore, “a prototype for the pandemic has been designed, in which air circulations are minimized.”
The vast majority are already in use. “They began to be installed on September 7, around 80% are finished and have been occupied as they were put”.
What plans does Education have for them? “Being owned, we have great flexibility for future use. They can be easily disassembled and reinstalled where it may be necessary in a timely manner ”, indicates the spokesperson, who promises that“ their installation will not influence the programming for the construction and expansion of centers ”.
Isabel Galvín, from CC OO Madrid, thinks that they are “another business opportunity, because they buy, and expensive, and without public tender”. The contracts have been awarded to four companies via emergency procedure, that is, without bidding or advertising.
The platform highlights the disparity in prices: eight Normetal modules cost 842,722 euros in Madrid and 1,081,211 in Algete, 734,835 if Algeco puts them in Getafe, Leganés, Parla and Torrejón and 472,304 if Alquibalat serves them in Tres Cantos, Leganés and Alcalá .
“Is it that some classrooms are luxury and others are cheap?” Asks Arkones. “The different prices cater to the different models and benefits (with or without toilet, surfaces, coatings, etc.)”, answers Education.
The classrooms have a metal structure, with two sheets and insulation between them, the windows are thermally broken and have air conditioning and heating by electric radiators. The floor is vinyl and in some models, oak flooring, and the lights, led. The ceilings are cladding that prevents reverberation. All have a ramp and some have a toilet.
The regional government has provided this newspaper with the list of 63 centers, but has not clarified which ones or how many have pending extensions. Crossing this data with reports from CC OO and from the platform, at least 20 of them are unfinished, almost 32%, to which 115 classrooms have been allocated.
The two centers with the most modules, 12, are the Los Tempranales school in San Sebastián de los Reyes and the Simone Veil institute in Paracuellos, both unfinished. In addition, there are eight with eight prefabricated classrooms, seven of them with unmade phases.
How are these very high concentrations explained ? Are deficiencies prior to the covid being covered, as reported by unions and parents? Education does not enter into specific cases and is limited to answering that “the need for spaces in each center is different, due to the level from which they started and their number of students.”
The director of Los Tempranales declines to respond to this newspaper. “He cannot speak,” they say in the secretariat. After consulting with Education, they do not give him permission – in September, the regional government prohibited health workers and teachers from speaking to the media .
“We have them there, but we are not using them because right now we do not need them,” point out sources from the Simone Veil management, who clarify that they are not covid-classrooms, but for the students who will join next year.
The center, the only public institute in Paracuellos, where there are two concerted schools, opened in 2018 and welcomes 10 high school groups. I had to open another building in 2021 for ESO, but the site is empty and there is no date for the start of the works.
“Of course, they have not put them where the ESO is going if they do not face it and they have promised us that, as soon as it is done, they will take them.” To adjust to the measures imposed by the covid, the 363 students of the center only go to class in person for 50% of their schedule. If they had more teachers they could split the groups or if the barracks were bigger,
One of the unfinished centers with eight barracks is the Elisa Soriano Fisher institute in Getafe, which teaches up to the 3rd year of ESO. Mario Ayuga, president of AMPA, says that the first phase was inaugurated in September 2018 and that the third and last phase was due in September 2022. \
However, the second will be on that date. “The center was designed for 240 students, now there are 360 and the next course, 480”, he emphasizes. They don’t have a gym or cafeteria.
“This year they used the library and a workshop room and the 3rd graders go to class one day and two are at home. There were barracks, which were placed on October 19, but they are not yet operational because the entrance had to be paved, ”Ayuga explains.
When they return from vacation, they will occupy them in 3rd place and they will be able to go from 33% presence to 50. The AMPA agreed with putting up barracks, but criticized that they were late and worried that they would leave them. Ayuga demands that the phased construction model be finished.
“They justify it in the costs, but in the end the works take longer and the students are crowded together. The barracks cost 700,000 euros and the expansion was 2.2 million ”, concludes Ayuga.