Apr 18 2012 by Johnathon Menzies, Stirling Observer Wednesday
FUNDING for a temporary classroom at Cornton Primary School was officially rubber-stamped following a special meeting last week.
The short-term solution for the new P1 intake in August was pledged by the council’s SNP administration after parents discovered 17 of 47 children who had enrolled looked set to be asked to go to other schools.
Labour rivals subsequently called for an interim executive meeting to be held last Thursday in a bid, they said, to ensure adequate funding was in place following a packed public meeting to debate the issue at the end of March.
The delivery, installation, monthly hire, cleaning and associated utilities of the unit will cost £47,900 in 2012-13 – money which will be taken from council balances. Teaching costs will be met by the existing education budget, the meeting was told.
Councillor John Hendry, who proposed the motion which was seconded by Labour group leader Corrie McChord and approved by nine votes to three, said afterwards: “This is the latest case of SNP incompetence where everyone else was to blame and they refused to acknowledge a problem of their own making in forward planning for Cornton Primary School.
“It is also another example of behind the scenes fixes to bury a difficult political issue beyond an election. I am pleased the parents and carers’ actions have demanded a fully-funded solution and delighted that the Labour group motion put local people first to ensure it happened.”
SNP council candidate David Wilson, who is standing alongside fellow nationalist Councillor Jim Thomson in the Castle Ward, said: “The crucial point to stress here is that this whole situation was created because the previous Labour administration allowed more houses to be built than the school could accommodate, over the longer term, around 100 more houses since 2000.
“However, I understand that people get sick and tired of politicians who constantly seek to point the finger of blame at one another, and instead want action and solutions.
“Last week’s meeting was nothing more than a political stunt from a shameless Labour Party desperate to stoke fear and propagate misinformation.
“The fact is that swift and decisive action was taken by the SNP administration for the coming school year immediately, and consultation is ongoing with parents, education officers and the headteacher to ensure this issue is resolved for future years.”
Current Bannockburn Ward councillor Alasdair MacPherson raised concerns in the chamber over whether planned work at St Margaret’s in Cowie and St Ninians would be pushed down the priority list as a result of the changes at Cornton.
A proviso was inserted into the passed motion to ensure that all existing refurbishment proposals earmarked for the council’s schools estate proceed as planned.
Councillor MacPherson said: “I voted against Labour’s motion as I am very concerned that the refurbishment of St Margaret’s RC Primary School will be delayed if a review was approved.
“I have organised a meeting this week with education officials at the request of St Margaret’s Parent Council who have expressed serious concerns over the condition of the school.
“It is very clear that Labour want Cornton Primary to jump ahead of St Margaret’s, which I could not agree to, despite their feeble attempts to reassure me.”
Tory Castle Ward candidate Jennifer Gordon said: “I welcome the news that the council will act on this issue, especially as it will not affect other school refurbishments.
“Our councillors have finally done something about this accommodation issue, but the fact that it came to this shows how much they have taken their eye off the ball.
“We need a council education committee – as promised in the our manifesto – to listen to parents, pupils and teachers to keep the bureaucrats in the education department in line.”
Labour candidate Johanna Boyd added: “I’m sure the parents and carers of pupils entering P1 classes this coming term will be delighted that a formal decision has been taken to address the issue and fund a proper solution for the future demand for places in Cornton Primary School and not have their young children sent elsewhere.”
Liberal Democrat Castle Ward elected member Graham Reed said he felt much of what was tabled at the interim executive meeting was already in the process of being implemented.
Council papers state the temporary teaching unit, which was used when Doune Primary was refurbished, will be operational by August 20 this year.