A massive plan, to one billion euros, to rebuild the schools of Marseille

Un plan massif, à un milliard d'euros, pour reconstruire les écoles de Marseille

Regularly pinned to the dilapidated state of some public schools, the city of Marseille voted on Monday a massive plan of reconstruction by an amount of one billion euros, through public-private partnerships (PPP) contested by the opposition.

“The project that we are about to launch is considerable, it is a real Marshall plan, which has no equivalent, nor in the history of the city of Marseille or any other city,” boasted the mayor (LR) Jean-Claude Gaudin, in front of the city council.

The plan provides for the destruction of 31 institutions obsolete 1960’s, and their replacement by 28 new schools, as well as the construction of 6 more schools in six years.

To achieve this, the city has chosen to use a series of public-private partnerships, a method of funding in which the municipality entrusts the entire project, from financing to construction, to private companies. The city will then rent, of approximately 41 million euros per year for 25 years –for a total cost of 1.04 billion euros.

These PPPS are regularly criticized: according to their opponents, they are sometimes too profitable for the private sector. In Marseille, the additional costs related to the construction of the new Velodrome in PPP have been pinned by the regional chamber of accounts. Mr. Gaudin has assured Monday pre-assessing “all possible solutions” and having received the favourable opinion of Bercy for the use of PPPS, the embodiment of “best” and “that will cost the less expensive”, he justified.

“Having under-invested chronically during these years, after having pretended (discover) the problem of the schools (…) you will trigger the Armageddon budget”, has tancé the leader of the socialist opposition, Benedict Payan, worrying about the financial impact of the choice of PPP for this massive investment. The PS committee is also concerned about the possibility of “real estate operations” on a part of the rights-of-way land schools. The town hall has denied any desire to “sale of land”.

The polemics on the state of the schools are recurring in the second city of France. The town hall, which hosts 77.000 children in more than 440 schools, had been summoned in 2016 by the State to undertake work in emergency, in the face of the testimonies that were all the rage on the part of parents and teachers, describing some of the walls are mouldy, classes, non-heated, or premises infested by rats. An emergency plan of € 41 million, had been implemented.