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Future of Gartly School to be discussed by Aberdeenshire Council's education committee next week

By Pat Scott

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Aberdeenshire’s Education and Children’s Services Committee is to meet next week to consider the most appropriate next steps for Gartly School.

The committee will be asked to make a recommendation to officers on the next steps - the options are to either proceed with remediation work and re-instatement of Gartly School or conduct a full options appraisal.

Closure of the school will be one of the options in the full appraisal but the authority says there is a presumption against the closure of rural schools and the key driver for such a move would have to be educational benefit.

Pupils and staff moved out of the Gartly School building at the end of 2018 following an extensive oil leak.

So far, £451,154 has been spent on remediation work and it is estimated that a further £872,000 would be required to re-instate the building as a school.

Officers and councillors face the dilemma that the acceptable defined maximum level of contamination for the existing site to be re-instated as a school is zero and this cannot be guaranteed.

The school had a roll of 36, plus nursery children, at the time of the move but many parents have chosen to move elsewhere and the roll now stands at 8.

A report to the committee acknowledges the difficult position parents and carers find themselves in, and the wider Gartly community who would like to see the school re-instated.

The report states: "While the clear preference of responses received are acknowledged, the council also needs to consider the wider requirements across the learning estate."

A summary of comments from Marr Area Committee discussed the school's future in November and comments were sent to the education and children’s services department.

A majority of Marr councillors supported the re-instatement highlighting the importance of rural schools and their benefit to the community.

The meeting is on Thursday.

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