REPLACING Inverkeithing, St Columba's and Woodmill and increasing capacity at Dunfermline and Queen Anne high schools would cost at least £157 million. 

Fife Council's plans to replace two secondary schools and extend another in Glenrothes add a further £69m to the bill but they've admitted they won't have enough money to carry out the work.

The only confirmed funding they have is £50m of their own money and councillors will be told at Tuesday’s education and children’s services committee there’s “no guarantee” that the Scottish Government will come up with any finance.

The council has prioritised the replacement of secondary schools in poor condition with Inverkeithing, St Columba’s and Woodmill, as well as Glenrothes and Glenwood, all rated C.

That comes to an estimated £203m.

And, due to a looming capacity crisis and the building of 25,000 new homes in Fife over the next decade – with 10,000 for Dunfermline and West Fife – they aim to ‘fill up’ high schools with spare capacity.

Work to enable Queen Anne, Dunfermline and Auchmuty to cope with an extra 650 pupils would add £23m to the bill, and the £226m total doesn’t include site purchase or decanting costs, inflation, technical, legal or financial advice.

Lack of funds, and difficulty in recruiting enough teachers, is also likely to rule out the prospect of a sixth high school being built in the Dunfermline and West Fife area to cope with an increasing pupil roll.

A report by the executive director of education, Carrie Lindsay, said: “An alternative approach, for example, could be the distribution of 1,100 places over a number of schools eg 200 to Queen Anne, 300 to a replacement school to serve the communities of Inverkeithing and Rosyth, 300 to Dunfermline High and an additional 300 could be considered extra to a combined campus for Woodmill and St Columba’s.

“This would increase the size of the existing five schools, without the expenditure of constructing and operating a sixth school in this area.”

A review is under way to look at reducing the overall cost of the council’s proposals and Ms Lindsay said: “The only funding fully controlled by Fife Council is the £50m within the capital plan.

“There remains no guarantee that the Scottish Government will provide any funding, nor that the funding will be at the levels previously provided.

“The level and profile of developer contributions are projections, with no guarantee that they will be achieved at the level and timescales indicated.

“The level of commitment, as currently detailed in the council’s capital programme, or as might be available, is not sufficient to achieve replacement of all five secondary schools in their current format.”

The Scottish Government announced in September an extra £7 billion for schools, hospitals, transport, digital connectivity and clean energy by 2026.

They’ve not yet said how local authorities can get the money but Ms Lindsay said that “where local authorities are developing a flexible/innovative design, such projects will have the best chance” of securing funding.

She said a campus at Halbeath, with Fife College, St Columba’s and Woodmill on a single site, would provide “flexible learning” with closer links between schools, the college and business.

The college principal, Hugh Hall, has previously outlined his objection to sharing the former Hyundai site but it looks like that’s the only way the council will get money for these two schools.

Ms Lindsay said that preliminary discussions with the Scottish Government indicated that funding “may be available nationally for the development of innovative projects, such as the creation of a joint learning campus with Fife College”.

There were “no indications” at this stage of the level of funding but she stated that money from Holyrood “would only be in support of raising schools from conditions C and D to A and B with no allowance for any increased capacity to address development pressures”.

She added: “The Scottish Government is unlikely to offer funding for replacement of Woodmill, St Columba’s and Inverkeithing. They would expect the council to fund replacement for any other school not included within a project.”

The report says the whole process of delivering a new school could take four years and there were a “number of difficulties” in redeveloping the Inverkeithing site.

The council committed to its replacement in August but it’s category B-listed, Historic Environment Scotland would have to agree any changes, and building a replacement on the existing playing fields could lead to delays.