SCHOOLS MERGER ON TRACK - DESPITE PARENTS' CONCERNS
Written by Gordon Neish Wednesday, 22 February 2012 14:19
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The budget report was read with dismay by parents who wish to see education continuing at Dunoon, St Mun’s and Kirn Primary schools rather than see a single campus on the site of the Kirn school.
On parents’ concerns that the timescale was slipping a council spokeswoman said: “The timescale for developing the full business case is by the end of March 2012 – that timescale has not changed. The council conducted the pre application consultation (PAC) before Christmas and the responses to the comments received have been considered in moving this stage of the project forward.”
Parents are becoming increasingly concerned that they have yet to be consulted on the future of their children’s education as the council plans to start building the supercampus in 16 months time.
A council spokeswoman said: “In taking forward the project the council has and will continue to consult on the proposals to ensure parental views and their support influence the decisions which will be taken.”
Parent Lindsey McPhail told the Standard: “ Other than the PAC, which appeared to be little more than a PR exercise as none of the decision makers were in attendance to answer questions, parents have not been able to share their views.
“If the council were to have initially asked the parents involved and affected by the proposal if they wanted to have one large joint campus, rather than the existing schools, the council could have saved themselves a lot of time and money, as I am confident the answer would have been a resounding no.”
A council spokeswoman said: “The PAC report is almost finalised and will shortly be published with the project newsletter. Some of the comments received were quite detailed and the proposals have been altered in a number of ways to try to address comments received – the PAC report will highlight these points and the newsletter has been timed to reflect this work.
“If the business case is approved further local consultation will take place with the parents of pupils affected.”
Ms McPhail was also concerned that the council was going to have to borrow £6m for the project. She said: “If they can justify borrowing the money for a rebuild they should also be able to justify borrowing to upgrade existing schools.”
A council spokeswoman said: “If the revenue funding allocated to repay this loan was freed up, the council would then be able to consider alternative options but no proposals are currently under consideration.
“Not progressing the proposals would also result in the 50 per cent (approx. £6m) funding from the Scottish Government towards the cost of the new school being lost to Argyll and Bute.”
Ms McPhail said: “This £6m isn’t lost as we don’t have it yet. And the government should be supporting remedial work on schools along with new builds.”