the near £20 million funding shortfall facing the Capital’s school building plans might seem like a dilemma for city councillors – but, in reality, it is no such thing.
They have no real choice but to press ahead and ensure all the new classrooms that are so desperately needed get built.
Firstly, it is the right thing to do. Failing to act now will leave thousands of children being taught in overcrowded schools for years to come. Problems like children eating their lunches at their desk and being taught in cramped or noisy classrooms are only going to get more common as the school roll continues to grow.
That is reason enough, but councillors will also know that it is the smart thing to do politically.
The previous Lib Dem-SNP administration learned the hard way just how unpopular school closures are with local communities. The opposite problem will be no more popular. Parents will know if the city fails to build new classrooms when they are urgently needed – and they will punish councillors at the ballot box.
We don’t have to look far to see the alternative to tackling the problem. Parents living in the catchment area for Hillhead Primary School in Glasgow’s West End have been warned they cannot be guaranteed a place there due to the overwhelming demand. The same could happen here, especially in South Morningside.
Money is tight at the City Chambers, as it is across the public sector, but the sums involved are not insurmountable for a local authority with a £1 billion budget.
The city must lobby the Scottish Government for more support to deal with unique problems being caused by the Capital’s fast growing population. While long-term borrowing would prove very expensive, we cannot afford to rule it out yet.
In the end, it comes down to priorities, and few rank higher than securing the future of our children’s education.