FIFE COUNCIL is putting aside £50 million in its new budget to replace three West Fife high schools.
Council leader David Ross confirmed the funding allocation this week – but a further £100 million is still needed from the Scottish Government before any proposals can be progressed.
Outlining plans for the council’s draft budget proposals for 2017-18, Councillor Ross said priorities they had identified were Inverkeithing High, Woodmill High, St Columba’s High as well as two schools in Glenrothes.
“We have estimated that the whole programme will take about £150 million to do it,” he said.
“In the past, the Scottish Government has come up with two-thirds of funding for new schools so, based on a £150 million programme, we are putting £50 million in and will continue to speak to the Scottish Government about them coming forward with theirs.
“In the past, they have had programmes where sometimes they say it is for an extension to the existing school so we will keep that £50 million flexible. These are our priority schools that we need to do something about.”
Last month, the Press launched our Action for Schools campaign calling for all parents, teachers, politicians, councillors, Fife Council and the Scottish Government to work together to tackle the crisis facing West Fife schools NOW and ensure our kids continue to receive the best education they possibly can.
With 12,000 new homes due to be constructed in West Fife over the next 20 years, more and more pressure is expected to be placed on the already creaking education system. If nothing is done, there will be no high school places by 2021-22.
All three schools mentioned by Cllr Ross are crumbling, out of date and becoming costly to update.
Cllr Ross said he was unable to put any timescale on when the schools would be built but said he hoped it would be over the next five years.
“The phasing of it is flexible,” he said. “If money came forward from the Scottish Government immediately, we would match it.
“We saw John Swinney just before Christmas and said to him and we have written to him. They are saying there is no money at the moment and hope to make future investment and are looking at their options so we will keep working with them.”
He added that they were looking at a number of options for replacement schools and they wouldn’t necessarily be on their current sites. “We would look at these options in light of government funding schemes,” he explained.
“We believe it would still be open to us to look at co-location on the new college site in the case of Woodmill and/or St Columba’s but this is only one option.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said they were looking into further investment in school buildings.
“Education is at the heart of this government’s work, and ensuring children and young people are learning in suitable environments is an important aspect of this,” said the spokesperson.
“Through our £1.8 billion Schools for the Future programme, 112 schools will have been rebuilt or refurbished across Scotland by 2020. As part of the programme, Fife Council has received more than £57 million to rebuild three secondary schools.
"We are currently developing proposals for further investment in school buildings.”