Angus councillors yesterday approved a report which could lead to the axe for under-occupied or unsuitable schools.
Talks will be held on the entire school estate after officials revealed it was costing taxpayers up to six times more per child to educate pupils in some outlying areas, compared to the bigger towns.
Last night coalition chief Bob Myles urged communities across the region to have their say on the proposals now – and not wait until plans had been fully formed before coming out fighting for their own areas.
The council’s education and learning committee authorised a pre-consultation programme after considering a report which revealed 11 Angus primary schools have been assessed as being in a poor condition by the Scottish Government, among them Eassie, Liff, Stracathro, Arbirlot and Glamis.
This school year, 2,779 places out of 11,487 are unfilled, with some schools “very under-occupied”, according to officials.
Lethnot PS has already been mothballed and Tarfside PS has no pupils on its roll.
Per pupil costs include £36,806 at Tarfside, £12,691 at Arbirlot, £12,048 at Carmyllie and £10,095 for Stracathro.
Those low-roll figures compare to £3,906 for Timmergreens in Arbroath, £5,449 at Forfar’s Whitehills and £4,282 at Lochside, Montrose.
Service manager Elaine Hughes said: “Our current learning estate does not fully meet our aspirations for the best quality learning environments for all our children and young people that makes the best use of the resources available.
“The review of the school estate will influence the council’s financial plan and long-term revenue financial planning.
“It is not possible to quantify the implications at this stage.
“We must ensure we have a sustainable estates plan which maximises educational benefits for all children and young people or the council could face significant risks such as poor condition school buildings and unmanageable building maintenance issues.”
Officials said the consultation exercise would involve a whole range of opportunities for people to participate and Councillor Myles urged residents to take those up.
“This is extremely important,” he said.
“We often get criticism for not having consultation so I would urge everyone to get on board with this.
“People come to us with petitions and groups trying to change things after they are almost decided – this is the early stage so I would ask anyone that wants to be involved in the education of their children to get involved.”
Kirriemuir SNP councillor Julie Bell said: “I want to emphasise the importance of the learning experience for children – it is not all about the bricks and mortar and I would really like to see that come through in subsequent reports on this.”