Parents believe Perth and Kinross Council is turning its back on tens of thousands of pounds of government funding in its haste to close schools and save money.
The claim has been made by campaigners fighting to save Abernyte Primary School – one of those whose future is threatened by the council’s estates review.
Its parent council believes removing the catchment constraints that have strangled class sizes would enable the local authority to increase the rural school funding it receives.
That could mean sums of as much as £120,000 becoming available from the Scottish Government if the council were to work with the community on improving class sizes.
The futures of ten Perth and Kinross primary schools are currently under consideration, including others in rural areas.
The Abernyte parents’ proposal has been backed by Perth and North Perthshire SNP MP Pete Wishart who has urged the council to call a halt to its estates review.
He said: “Having spoken to parents from the Parent Council in Abernyte, I fully understand their concerns about the future of the school.
“I would support anything that could be done to expand the catchment area in order to raise future pupil numbers at the school.
“With the population expanding in the Carse of Gowrie, now is an ideal time for the education department at Perth and Kinross Council to secure the future of Abernyte Primary School and to secure some extra funding from the Scottish Government.
“It is vital that the resource that already exists in Abernyte plays a role in the expansion of the population in the Carse of Gowrie.”
The school community has prepared a detailed document for the review process in which it sets out its concerns. It has been submitted to Perth and Kinross Council.
Abernyte Primary School Parent Council writes: “It is our view that there has been active neglect, coupled with poor planning, to allow these difficulties to arise for Abernyte School.
“The school roll has been falling because of demographic changes and a restricted catchment area but we believe Abernyte School can be part of a long-term school capacity plan for the Carse of Gowrie.
“Our proposal is that the catchments for Abernyte and the surrounding areas are reviewed and amended to provide a more even distribution of school pupils.
“By doing this there could be greater flexibility in the school provision in the Carse, one able to adapt to population increase.”
The Parent Council has obtained figures from education chiefs which show the potential school roll is around 40 children – equating to 90% capacity.
The Commission on delivery of Rural Education Document on Rural School Funding 2013 sets out that an approximately £3,000 per pupil supplement is paid by the Scottish Government to councils to sustain smaller rural schools.
If the school roll was therefore increased to 40 pupils, the parent council believes this would represent £120,000 additional income to Perth and Kinross Council.
Perth and Kinross Council said no decisions had been taken and that the review was still underway.
Multiple options – including closure – are presented for each school involved.
A second round of ten schools is expected to join the review in the New Year, with their futures also in jeopardy.