By Violaine Morin

Posted today at 5:50 am, updated at 9:33 am

There are those who have seen rats running, those who once stepped on a cockroach, those who return home “Wet socks” because the rain turned the yard into a giant puddle. While the new municipal majority – competent in matters of school buildings – was elected in 2020 on the promise of change, several thousand Marseille schoolchildren are still attending school in difficult conditions.

On September 2, the day of the start of the school year, Emmanuel Macron, visiting Marseille, is expected to announce the state’s participation in the financing of a school renovation program costed at 1.2 billion euros by the municipality. The latter hopes to get half – 600 million euros. It estimates that 174 schools – more than a third of its school park, which caters for 79,000 children in all – are in poor condition. ” degraded “ which requires “Heavy work”. At issue: over thirty years “Abandonment” schools by the public authorities.

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The National School, a REP + school (priority education network) in the 3e arrondissement of Marseille, is a good example of ubiquitous management of school buildings. “This place should never have become a school”, summarizes Sandrine Dollinger, who teaches there in CM1-CM2. The building is a former post office, where everything is ” complicated ” : the rooms are cramped, the courtyard fills with water and is too narrow for its 500 or so students, forcing teachers to take recess turns. Recently, the town hall acquired an old adjoining garage, in ruins, with the project to expand the school. “We were already talking about buying this garage in the 1990s”, sighs a former teacher.

Inside the National elementary school in Marseille, August 31, 2021.

Images of decrepit walls, clogged toilets and broken floors, referred to as “Shame of the Republic” February 2, 2016 on the front page of Release, correspond to situations “Settled” since then, we are assured at the town hall.

At the time, this “one” had provoked a national awareness. Jean-Claude Gaudin, the indestructible mayor (Les R├ępublicains) since 1995, minimized by shouting at political manipulation. Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Minister of Education, for his part released several million euros in reparations “Urgent”.

Renovations and new constructions

But the “bulk” of the work is quickly costed at 1 billion euros by the municipality. Jean-Claude Gaudin then embarked on a public-private partnership (PPP), presented in 2017 as economical and rapid, but which commits the city to paying astronomical rents for twenty-five years. The Marseillais do not want it: they denounce a “Gift to large private groups” and one “Fiscal suicide”. The administrative court of Marseille cancels the vote in early 2019.

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