Concerns were raised by parents about overcrowding and rising rolls at three local schools during a public meeting in Kintore School last week (Thursday, February 2).
Kinellar School, Kintore School and Kemnay Academy were under the spotlight at the meeting called by Aberdeenshire Council as part of public consultation on its school estate.
While attendance has been low at some of the other consultation meetings, around a hundred people turned up in freezing conditions to take part in the meeting in Kintore.
Councillor Martin Ford, whose East Garioch ward includes Blackburn and Kintore, distributed leaflets in advance in both villages to publicise the meeting.
He said, “I am very pleased the meeting was so well attended. I would like to thank everyone who came.”
Overcrowding and rising rolls mean Kinellar School needs to be replaced by a larger building on a new site in Blackburn while a second school is needed in Kintore.
The council will also have to provide more spaces at Kemnay Academy and possibly build a new academy at Kintore.
Councillor Ford has been pressing Aberdeenshire Council to make a firm commitment to a new school in Blackburn and to a second school in Kintore.
He has raised the need for new schools in Blackburn and Kintore on various occasions at both the Garioch Area Committee and the Education, Learning and Leisure Committee.
Some parents at the Kintore meeting were critical of the local authority and questioned why firm proposals for new schools had not been produced before now.
Councillor Ford said: “The meeting at Kintore School was dominated by concerns about overcrowding and rising rolls in local schools.
“Rightly, people want to know what the council is going to do to address current overcrowding and to ensure it has the schools it needs as pupil numbers rise during the coming years.
“The meeting will certainly have underlined to council officers the strength of feeling there is locally about the shortage of space in our schools. It was emphasised repeatedly that the council cannot delay taking decisions.”
Aberdeenshire Council has started the process that should see new schools built in Kintore and Blackburn. However, funding to build new schools in Kintore and Blackburn is not specifically identified in the council’s spending plans.
Funding for a new Kinellar School was previously included in the local authority’s capital plan, but was cut when a new capital plan was adopted at a special meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee on September 30, 2010.
Councillor Ford said: “The bottom line is that the council must give priority to investing in schools.
“Forecast increases in the school rolls mean work needs to start as soon as possible on a second primary school for Kintore and a replacement school in Blackburn. I will continue to press the council for urgent action.”
A report is expected to go before councillors next month detailing the outcome of the consultation process.