Berlin’s biggest school building debacle is not over: The Kreuzberg Kurt Schumacher School will also experience the ninth anniversary of its relocation to the after-school care center in a state of emergency. This is proven by the currently valid schedule for the repair of the school building, which is closed due to deficiencies in fire protection. The second construction phase should not be ready for occupancy until 2026, according to Andy Hehmke (SPD), the district’s education councilor.
The primary school on the corner of Wilhelm- / Puttkammerstraße with its around 260 students is instructed to spend the school day – lessons, meals, afternoon care – in the makeshift after-school care center. The students neither have enough specialist rooms nor a gym:
For sports lessons when & you switch to four different halls in the area.
The teachers only have a provisional staff room: just like the headmaster, the secretary and the educators, they are in small rooms in the house.
After the move back to the actual school building had been postponed year after year – due to company bankruptcies, for example – the summer of 2021 was last considered the set date. It too could not be kept, so that February 2022 was set as the target. But then only some of the classrooms will be ready for occupancy, because the construction site was divided into two sections due to the delays – a decision by the district office.
For the second section, including the rooms for remedial teaching and administration as well as teachers’ rooms, construction will not start until 2023, according to Hehmke. Then it should take even more years, so that everyday school life will be affected by the building activity and construction noise sections until 2026, because both building boundaries are directly adjacent to one another.
This development could not be foreseen when the fire protection experts ordered the immediate move to the after-school care center on December 20, 2012. Then the bad planning began: The State Audit Office firmly expects 2019, the district office has failed to “carry out adequate building structure examinations and allow their results to flow into the planning”. This resulted in a loss of millions. On the other hand, City Councilor Florian Schmidt (Greens) speaks of a “streak of bad luck”.
According to the Court of Auditors, a correct audit would have led to the conclusion that a new building would have been better than renovation. The bad planning goes back to the time before Schmidt and is now often left unmentioned. Instead, the district office prefers to name company bankruptcies or poor company performance as reasons for the delays. City councilor Hehmke also wants to look ahead and announces that an entire educational campus with a community school is to be built around the school.
“I know that the school community at the Kurt Schumacher Primary School suffers a lot from the problems. The fact that there is no longer any strength for innovations and change processes goes too far, ”says Hehmke. He knows parents, children and employees “who really enjoy working at this school” and who are committed despite all the problems.
The city council is satisfied with the district balance sheet
The social democrat also points out that during his term of office, i.e. since 2016, he created two more community schools. The number of European schools has doubled to six, school cleaning is rated “by all schools with an average grade of 2.1” and there is “excellent cooperation” between school management, school authorities, school supervisory authorities and himself as the city council.
Even the number of applicants for teaching staff is better in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg than elsewhere, because the actors “are considered innovative, as actors on an equal footing who leave room for discussion”. In addition, a lot is being renovated and rebuilt, and even the damp cellar of the Andreas Gymnasium, the “Andreas Brunnen”, is finally dry. In addition, he had been to the Kurt Schumacher School “about 15 times” during the election period to speak to those involved.
Some parents and employees may appreciate this, but the school is still drained. “This is not a fading nuisance. We notice that every day, ”says headmaster Lutz Birthig, describing the status quo. Every day the colleagues are looking for rooms, “every corner” is used. In addition, a student body that urgently needs intensive support. The school’s reputation “has not improved”.
A mother cannot attach herself
Even the strongest fighter in the school, overall parenting spokeswoman Henrike Hüske, who also reports on the state of the school to the news service “Twitter”, has become discouraged. Regardless of how committed the school is: “We remain a construction site and are out of it with middle-class parents immediately.” That is “the really sad thing, because children who a mixture of students would help to find their way, who need peace and quiet because they live in a small space with a lot of people, will be left in the lurch here,” she says .
Zara Demet Altan cannot make peace with the situation either. Under the given circumstances, the teacher for German, English and art makes films with her students – small works of art about children’s lives between the experience of fleeing and everyday school life in Berlin.
Nominated for the engagement award
ilme aus dem But, as with Henrike Hüske, one notices Altan that the optimism that somehow carried her through the years is now being lost: “The mood is depressing,” is her review. Some of the children suffered a lot during the Corona period and now need attention, individual support and opportunities to withdraw, but again there is not enough space. “Bridges were built in those years and skyscrapers, but our school is still not finished.”
For Altan this is a sign of “absolute, fabulous incompetence, for which the children should be ashamed: You are playing with the future of ours.
The films Zara Altans, which she made with the fourth and fifth grades of the Kurt Schumacher School, have been nominated for the German Engagement Prize 2021. Whoever wants to vote: www.deutscher-engagementpreis.de/nc/publikumspreis.