A delay in granting permission for the new Madras College could cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, councillors have been warned.
Education bosses said that unless the contract is awarded by the first week in February its current programme could slip, resulting in the agreed price soaring month-by-month.
North east Fife councillors are due to consider the planning application for the long-awaited £40 million school in St Andrews on January 9, with a recommendation from planners it is approved.
Fife Council’s education service has taken the unusual step of lodging a statement of need with its application, including dire warnings of the impact of delaying the decision.
The education service warned an overrun in the agreed fixed price would require renegotiation, with a prediction of a £630,000 increase and a further £210,000 each month thereafter.
If consent is issued in January, it said the school at Langlands could be completed by February 2021, with pupils moving in during the summer term.
But it warned: “A delay in consent beyond January 2019 in terms of gaining planning approval will result in the projected delivery programme being severely undermined and pushed into the next academic year and potentially beyond.”
Madras College’s existing buildings at South Street and Kilrymont Road continue to deteriorate, despite significant investment in their maintenance.
School inspectors slated the “unsatisfactory” split-site accommodation in 2006 but delivery of the new school has been hampered by a series of setbacks.
The education service said: “Any increase in cost is unlikely to be funded by the council and could, based on experience, result in moving to value engineering of the project, which in turn is likely to reduce the overall quality of the building as designed, including the use of high quality materials, and any resultant reduction in quality may not be acceptable to the planning authority.”
Previously the council said that there must be a masterplan for the St Andrews West strategic development area (SDA) before the school, on a site within the SDA, was approved.
The masterplan is yet to be agreed and as a result the school is considered contrary to Fife’s development plan.
However, the report which will be presented by planners to the north east planning committee said the potential impact on the SDA would be outweighed by the urgent need for a new school and the school being a sustainable development.
Madras upkeep is costing other schools
Keeping Madras College open has cost £2.5 million and impacted on other schools while delivery of a new building has been delayed.
The money has been spent by Fife Council over the last seven years on maintaining the deteriorating buildings in South Street and Kilrymont Road.
A further £110,000 has been set aside to keep them operational, but it is predicted the planned cost will be “greatly exceeded”.
Meanwhile, other schools in Fife in need of investment had lost out, the council said.
It was originally intended the new school would open in 2012 at a cost of £30m but the project has suffered a series of setbacks.
Despite the investment, parts of Madras College have a condition rating of D, meaning they are at the end of their life, and the overall rating is expected to slip from C to D.
The financial impact of the delays was outlined in a statement of need prepared by the council’s education service as councillors prepare to consider the planning application for the £40 million new secondary school.
It said: “The continued delay in building a new Madras College is resulting in ongoing investment and expenditure on the maintenance of the existing deteriorating school buildings pending their replacement.
“This ongoing investment was not anticipated, given that the council intended to build a new school rather than continue to expend on the existing school buildings.”
The £2.5m was spent “just to ensure the school remains operational” and was almost four times the sum spent on Bell Baxter High School, in nearby Cupar, during the same period.
It said: “The expenditure on Madras College over the last seven years and more deprives other schools within Fife from beneficial investment, where such schools are not due for replacement.
“The detrimental effect is likely to increase as the existing buildings at Madras continue to deteriorate due to both the age of the buildings and their inherent unsuitability for the operational and curricular needs of the school continues.”
Initially £30m was set aside for the new Madras College in 2008. That rose to £40m a year later, but did not take into account ongoing maintenance repairs funded from a different budget.