Schools chairman welcomes budget

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BORDERS education chairman Sandy Aitchison believes the local authority’s latest budget is good news for the region’s schools, despite concernsthat a new review could herald mergers or even closures, writes Mark Entwistle.

Last week the council revealed its budget revenue plans for the next five years and its proposed capital spending for the next decade.

This included a review of the schools estate, but Councillor Aitchison (Galashiels, BP) told TheSouthern: “I think the message we are sending out in the budget this week is one of good news and progress in many directions.

“Obviously the announcement of the Kelso High School project is good news, and we must not lose sight of the fact that West Linton Primary School will be opening for the new academic year and also the progress being made at Duns Primary School and the proposed move of the special facilities from Chirnside and Coldstream which will help to alleviate accommodation strains, but will also give a wonderful new facility at Duns.

“Progress on the consultation for the future schools for Galashiels is also continuing. While these are the highlights, a programme of improvement is ongoing and considering the financial problems in our economy, the education estate in the Borders continues to improve.”

The future of schools in Galashiels is set to be a major project for education staff for the next few years and the local authority has now committed £11m towards finding a solution.

Galashiels has six primaries and one secondary school and there is general agreement that several have outgrown their present accommodation, while others are not fit for the 21st century.

A £50,000 education review for Galashiels has been ongoing since last year and, thanks to this latest council budget, an initial £2million has been pledged for 2019 with a further £9million earmarked for the subsequent three years.

There is to be a full consultation with all schools in Galashiels and even a replacement for the ageing Galashiels Academy building has not been ruled out.