The government provides details on a plan for energy renovation in schools, while elected officials and teacher unions criticize the approach.

Deuxième étage vitré et exposé au soleil du lycée Nelson-Mandela, à Marseille, le 30 mai 2023.

The high temperatures that affected the entire metropolitan territory during the back-to-school week highlighted the urgent need for energy renovation of French schools. This is a massive project that falls under the responsibility of local authorities, and the Senate, in a report published in June, criticized the lack of coordination due to insufficient diagnosis, tools, and funding. To address this challenge, which local authorities claim they cannot tackle alone, the government presented a plan in May. On Thursday, September 14th, the Minister of Ecological Transition, Christophe Béchu, and the Minister of National Education, Gabriel Attal, further expanded and clarified the plan’s details.

“I cannot reword”

Starting from 2024, the works aimed at improving the “summer comfort” in schools, which are unsuitable for high temperatures as climate change increases and intensifies heatwaves, also become eligible for the Green Fund.

The recognition that almost all schools require transformations and the allocation of funds for their renovation has been welcomed by representatives of elected officials, who expressed their views through the voice of the Association of Mayors of France (AMF). However, the plan presented on Thursday has raised concerns among mayors regarding its management, as they believe it ignores the distribution of responsibilities between the State and local authorities.

Christophe Béchu explained that while 40,000 schools were indeed intended to be renovated by 2034, it was the responsibility of the prefect – a representative of the State – to establish a list of “priority” establishments. “Schools are buildings that fall under our jurisdiction, it is up to the municipalities to decide what form the renovations should take and which schools are prioritized to benefit from them,” criticizes Christian Métairie, the ecologist mayor of Arcueil (Val-de-Marne) and co-chair of the ecological transition commission of the AMF.

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