The fight to save Stracathro primary school was brought directly to Angus Council by worried parents.
During an impassioned plea to Angus councillors, Lee Ann Waddell, the vice-chair of the school’s Parent Council, urged elected members to remove the closure in its entirety from the authority’s wide-ranging educational plan for the next three decades.
The mother-of-three outlined achievement levels attained by former pupils, and warned its closure would increase the financial burden on the council.
The plans include the development of Edzell as the rural school for the Brechin cluster but Ms Waddell stressed while the council received government funding of £3,250 for all Stracathro pupils, Edzell does not qualify as it has more than 70 pupils at present.
“Ironically, should Edzell lose a handful (perhaps to Stracathro by way of a strategic catchment review) then they would stand to gain £1/4 million,” she told councillors.
“Two-thirds of our school roll, as of this week, will consist of catchment pupils; these will all have to be transported to Edzell at great cost to the council.
“According to the council website, Edzell already has a transportation cost of £12,454 and Stracathro, zero.”
She warned the council cannot claim a financial saving by paying off teachers as there is an agreement with the government not to reduce numbers, and that future housing provision for Edzell would impact on that primary’s capacity.
“The increased pressure on Edzell may mean more staff will have to be employed,” added Ms Waddell.
“With the pending influx of families to the new housing development in the village, it is possible that Edzell would be over capacity and requiring to employ more members of staff by 2019.
“There is a need to protect communities from decisions made primarily on the basis of finance.”
She emphasised the need for the freedom of choice for parents, with some choosing the rural model as a learning environment whilst others have chosen the town model, arguing that the 1855-built Stracathro school it would likely “outlive the more modern Edzell primary”.