Bute parents’ education fears over council savings

Local parents sign up to receive more information from island schools' parent councils about their protests against possible cuts to education in Argyll and Bute.
Local parents sign up to receive more information from island schools' parent councils about their protests against possible cuts to education in Argyll and Bute.

Parents of pupils at all four Bute schools attended a public meeting in Rothesay this week to voice their fears at the impact of council budget savings on local education.

The island’s three parent councils - Rothesay Joint Campus, St Andrew’s Primary and North Bute Primary - called the joint meeting ahead of Argyll and Bute Council’s annual budget meeting on February 11, when the authority will vote on how it intends to bridge a projected three-year budget gap of up to £26 million.

Their concerns related to more than 40 ‘savings options’ relating to education which were contained in the local authority’s ‘Service Choices’ public consultation, which ran throughout November and December.

Among those present was Susan McKay, chair of North Bute Primary’s parent council, who highlighted the jobs which would be lost if the education savings options were to be implemented in full.

“All these people - clerical staff, librarians, classroom assistants, attendance officers - are vital to the good running of the school,” she said.

“If we lose these people, who have huge experience and are really well trained, we won’t get them back.

“The consultation process was a bit like ‘who would you eat first on a raft?’.”

All three of the island’s Argyll and Bute councillors were invited to the meeting, though Isobel Strong was the only one able to attend.

“It would be easier for me, and other councillors in opposition, to say we don’t want anything to do with these proposals,” Mrs Strong said.

“But it’s not as simple as that: we have a responsibility as a council to balance the books.

“However, the consultation document was confusing. It has far more in it than needs to be cut.

“Lots of people are worried about what’s going to happen to their schools, their children and their jobs. But every time we tried to change something we were outvoted.”