Midlothian Council to revisit school building programme amid funding gap
Midlothian Council has announced it will revisit its school building and extension programme in a bid to help close a funding gap.
At the full council meeting yesterday, councillors endorsed work officers are doing to adapt its Learning Estate Strategy.
Among measures that will be explored further is to make the planned new primary at Kippielaw a 3-stream rather than a 2-stream school, meaning there would be capacity for three classes in each year.
If given the go-ahead, this would ease pressure on King’s Park Primary and allow plans to refurbish the building to be considered at a later date. However, expanding the nursery space for early learning would go ahead as soon as possible.
Councillors heard bringing Newtongrange Primary up to a 3-stream school by extending into the park would be challenging. Instead, officers will investigate making the new planned primary at Easthouses, a 3-stream school. Newtongrange Primary would however still be refurbished and extended to allow it to operate fully as a 2-stream school. The nursery space would also be expanded as soon as possible.
To make sure there is enough capacity at Auchendinny, the council is also to look at extending Mauricewood or Roslin primary schools to prepare for the Glencorse Primary School consultation.
These alternatives would be instead of the proposal to replace Glencorse with a single stream primary school.
Cabinet member for education, Councillor Jim Muirhead, said: “We’ve huge ambitions to deliver a world-class education service for our children and young people. The Learning Estate Strategy gives the council clear direction in the short, medium and long term.
“However, we need to have solid funding proposals in place. We’re reassured that council officers are continuing to explore revised solutions to cut the funding gap down from in excess of £90 million to £74m. Any gap would need to come from borrowing and/or generating capital.”
The total indicative capital cost of providing all the additional primary and secondary school capacity identified in the learning estate strategy is estimated at £312m. Developer contributions to fund a significant proportion of this expenditure are currently estimated to be in the region of £199m. It is estimated Scottish Government funding would contribute in the region of £31m and the capital grant for Early Years Expansion can fund a further £9m.
Meanwhile, Midlothian Council has submitted a bid to the Scottish Government for investment to replace Beeslack Community High School with a new school.
The new facility, which would also be a Centre of Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) learning, is planned to be situated on the A701 corridor, adjacent to Roslin.
Midlothian Council’s cabinet member for education, Cllr Jim Muirhead, said: “This is a hugely exciting project, which we are working on with the University of Edinburgh.
“Our first Centre of Excellence, which specialises in digital industries, has been open at Newbattle now for the best part of a year. It is already garnering acclaim so we can build on our experience of successfully delivering that project. Fingers crossed, therefore, that this latest bid is successful.”
It is proposed that the funding made available to each project will be equivalent to 50% of the capital cost and that it will be dependent on the council finding match funding.
Cllr Muirhead said the identified site will provide the best possible location for a learning campus which will draw together the growing communities of Loanhead, Bilston, Roslin and Auchendinny.