THREE long-awaited new schools are set to be built in the Capital after city officials recommended the approval of multi-million pound funding.
Council chiefs have committed to delivering a new St John’s RC Primary School in Portobello and St Crispin’s Special School – the two remaining crumbling schools in the Wave 3 School Replacement Programme.
Funding has been set aside in the council’s 2013-2018 capital investment programme for both schools, with the 2017-18 programme allocating £618,000 for the initial design costs for a new secondary school in Craigmillar, expected to open in August 2020.
The total cost for a new high school in Craigmillar is anticipated to be around £22.4 million, although the new school is dependent on the regeneration of the area. The only costs that will be allocated at this point are for “early stage design”. Councillors will be asked to approve the funding for the three schools at a meeting of the full council next month, which includes around £7m for a new St John’s – expected to be built by 2016 – and more than £6m for a replacement St Crispin’s by 2018.
In the meantime, £280,000 will be spent on “essential improvement works” at St John’s and St Crispin’s – £560,000 across the two schools.
Councillor Paul Godzik, the city’s education leader, said: “I am really pleased that we are in a position to be able to commit to delivering the two remaining schools in the Wave 3 School Replacement Programme.
“Further to this, we will also consider the position regarding the delivery of a new secondary school in Craigmillar.
“Money has been allocated to early stage design costs and, once the development required to bring families into the area is under way, we will ensure the school is built.”
However, Conservative education spokesman Councillor Jason Rust said: “While funding commitments are welcome, the issues in terms of a new secondary in Craigmillar are deeper than simply being about the building of a new school. We would be looking for more vision from this administration and at the opportunities to explore different options in delivering education.”
The Scottish Government will fund around £4.5m towards the new St John’s RC Primary as part of its Scotland’s Schools for the Future programme.
Secretary of Craigmillar Community Council Terry Tweed, 64, who lives in Craigmillar, welcomed the funding for a new secondary school but urged the council to consider opening it sooner. “Ideally we would like a school open before Castlebrae Community High School shuts,” he said.
Castlebrae Community High School is set to close its doors in the summer following poor exam results and a falling school roll.
Green finance spokesman Councillor Gavin Corbett welcomed the money being allocated to a new Craigmillar secondary school in 2017-18, but said it “still falls way short of what community campaigners have been asking for – a much earlier commitment to using extra funding from the Scottish Government next year to begin the process for a new school”.
£170k on defending Porty bid
Around £170,000 of public money has been spent defending a legal challenge from a campaign group opposed to a new Portobello High School being built on a community park.
Billy MacIntyre, head of resources for the council’s children and families department, revealed the figure to more than 300 residents at a packed public meeting at Portobello Town Hall when questioned by a member of the audience.
He also said the council had spent in excess of
£2 million to maintain the current Portobello High building over the last three years while the fight over the site rumbles on.
“Having undertaken a survey, we are going to have to spend another significant amount on maintenance and repair work until we can provide the new school,” he said.