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High Included In Major
Highland Schools Upgrade
6 September 2001
21ST CENTURY SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMME
Highland councillors will be asked next week to set themselves a target of bringing all their schools up to 21st century standard by the end of the decade through the most far-reaching programme of spending brought before them. A report being presented to the Education Culture and Sport Committee on Thursday (13 September) invites members to promote a second Education Public Private Partnership, involving a spending of £100 million phased between 2005 - 2010.
A total of 31 rural and urban schools are earmarked for significant upgrading or replacement in the ambitious programme, which aims to clear the backlog of works required on school properties. Major improvements are proposed at Dingwall Academy, Farr High School, Bettyhill, Grantown Grammar, Lochaber High School, Millburn Academy, Inverness, Portree High School, and Wick High School. Also proposed is the construction of a new school for pupils with special educational needs in Inverness; a new primary school in Inverness and a school for Gaelic Medium pupils in Inverness.
Other primary upgradings and replacements are also being proposed. The Council has until 31 March next year to present a business case to the Scottish Executive for PPP2, having already received a grant of (Pounds)410,000 from the Executive to prepare the bid. Through the first PPP, the Council is building new primary schools at Spean Bridge and Tomatin and new secondary schools at Drumndrochit and Strontian at a total cost of £17 million.
Convener David Green said the Councils target was to complete the 21st Century School Improvement Programme by the end of the first decade of the new millennium. He said: "This is the most far-reaching programme of spending tabled before the council. But with approximately one-third of our 220 schools in sub-standard accommodation, huge investment is required. We have a duty of stewardship for our schools. "Education is top of the Executives priorities. We share this view and we want to help the Executive deliver their agenda in the Highlands. Our ability to do so will be dependent upon the Executives support."
Due to the scale of the building programme, it would required to be phased over five years, unlike PPP1 which was let as one contract. Councillor Andy Anderson, Chairman of the Education Culture and Sport Committee, said: "This is a very exciting programme indeed and it would be absolutely tremendous if we could meet the 2010 target of completion. We have already held discussions with a number of school boards and community representatives and are aware of the support for what we are trying to achieve.
"Our aim is to provide modern
learning environments in all our communities and it will be up to local
people to decide whether or not they are on board. We will not
force anything on anyone." He said there was no prospect of
significantly improving the school building stock without a very large
investment programme. The PPP route was a method of beginning to tackle
current building problems on a much larger and strategic basis than at
present. He indicated that if the Committee agreed to proceed with
a (Pounds)100 million bid, consultations would commence in
October/November at which time costs would be refined and building
information analysed. The Education Culture and Sport
A preliminary target date for the opening of the fist new schools would be August 2005. Councillor Anderson said the final scope of the project would depend upon the ability of the Council to finance the charge paid by the Council to the consortium building the schools each year for a period of 25 years. The Executive had not yet indicated the level of support which would be available to Councils. In the first round of PPP projects, the Council received 80% in "level playing field" support, capped at £1.55 million per year. ie (Pounds)38 million against 25-year costs of £68 million. Assuming the same level of support given to the first PPP, the charge for PPP2 would be £8.6 million per year when it is fully implemented. He added: "Affordability is a key issue and this is why we are phasing the programme over five years and why we need the Executives commitment."
Note: The Council has a duty to consult with the public where there is a possibility of amalgamation of schools, where there is a change in the site of a school or where there is a change to the general nature of provision.
PPP2 POTENTIAL SCOPE OF PROJECT
Badenoch and Strathspey Deshar
Caithness Bower PS*
Wick High School
Inverness New Primary School*
Gaelic School Inverness*
Greater Fort William*
Acharacle P S
Lochaber High School
Ross and CromartyDingwall Academy*
Cromarty P.S.* & Newhall P.S.*
St Duthus SEN*
Skye and LochalshPortree High School
SutherlandFarr (Betty Hill) Primary*
Farr High School