TWO small rural schools are to have £44,000 spent on new kitchens, just days after a nearby primary was closed by the local authority due to lack of pupils, writes Mark Entwistle.
Last week TheSouthern reported on the decision by Scottish Borders Council to shut Ettrick Primary for the coming year because of the situation with pupil numbers.
The blow to the Ettrick Valley came just hours before the council executive, which met last week, agreed to spend thousands on new kitchens for Kirkhope and Yarrow primary schools.
As well as £28,000 for Yarrow Primary and £16,000 for Kirkhope, Eccles school will get £26,000 and a further £40,000 will be spent on a primary school dishwasher programme – the latter including Philiphaugh Primary.
The decision means the schools will be able to prepare food on site rather than having it produced elsewhere and then ferried by taxi for more than an hour before it is eaten.
On-site production will not only improve the quality, temperature and taste of the food, but also save around £30,000 annually in taxi fares.
SBC executive member for education, Councillor Sandy Aitchison said he hoped news of the investment would go, at least, some very small way towards making up for the situation at Ettrick Primary.
“Anything which improves the fabric and facilities of these schools is good news. And I take the point that Catriona Bhatia [Tweeddale West, LD] made at the meeting of the executive, about such facilities being used more by their local communities. This is certainly something on my agenda and hopefully these new kitchens will benefit not just the schools, but their communities also,” he said.
Selkirkshire councillors Gordon Edgar (Ind) and Vicky Davidson (LD) are also both delighted at the investment.
“As well as being an efficiency step, it’s better for the youngsters to have the food prepared fresh on the school premises,” said Mr Edgar. “Hopefully, the upshot will be that the wider community can benefit through their use at functions.”
Ms Davidson added: “The food for Kirkhope school has been cooked at Knowepark school since even I was a pupil at Knowepark, so this is fantastic news.”