By Fran Difranco, Director of Finance and Resources; IVC
The Gropius Building is acknowledged both internationally and domestically as architecturally significant and has bestowed upon it the honour of a Grade 1 listing.
This brings a positive aspect to the level of protection afforded to such buildings but with that comes the challenge of keeping the college functioning practically for over 1400 students and 200 staff whilst operating on standard school capital allocations which do not recognise the extra cost of maintaining a Grade 1 listed building.
In 2013/14 the College was allocated £27,000 by the Education Funding Agency (EFA) for capital works. This covers things such as boiler breakdown or major capital works. Clearly, with such a large site and numerous buildings of varying ages, this is a challenge.
On an annual basis the Governors receive a property management report which outlines the current condition of each building and what works are needed in the foreseeable future (3 years). The last report indicated immediate repairs and maintenance costs approaching £3m. The mathematicians amongst you will spot without too much difficulty that it would take 111 years to complete those works if the College continues to receive Capital funding at the current rate of £27k per annum.
The day to day maintenance of the College is funded from within our Revenue funding and we allocate a sum of £80k for this. In reality this has to cover not only maintenance but also any developmental works such as refurbishing classrooms or new carpets where needed.
The combination of these two budgets means that the whole allocation for all property related works is £107,000. On a per pupil basis, this works out at just about £76 per pupil, not a lot when you consider that the average smart phone costs more than that nowadays.
The Governors are responsible for the overall property and assets owned by the Academy Trust. They are required to ensure that they are adequately maintained and meet all statutory requirements such as Health and Safety legislation. They must also ensure that the property is adequately insured against the ever increasing risks of flood and other damage. The most recent insurance claims demonstrate the difficulties we have in terms of protecting the building. Water entering the building from the flat roof areas is a constant battle - most recently on the 8 August 2014 when the newly sealed Main Hall floor was damaged by rain water entering from the ceiling over the steps of the stage. Luckily damage here was minimal but the Adult Wing was less fortunate with carpets, walls and ceilings all needing replacement. No doubt the insurance premium will go up again next year from its already hefty £90k per annum.
The past 75 years has seen the world change dramatically but the buildings remain remarkably intact. It is fascinating to look at the original budget sheets from 1939 and to read about the financial challenges of the time, not least the impact of war. The challenge for the next 75 years is to establish a sustainable way of ensuring we keep the College as it should be – our responsibilities to do that rank alongside the delivery of excellent outcomes for the students who (past , present and future) will or have already benefited from being educated in such a prestigious building.