Meeting called to discuss future of Ettrick school

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VALLEY residents will meet at the end of the month to discuss ideas for Ettrick Primary School.

What was the region’s smallest school – with a roll of three last year – will not open for the next school session in August because there are no pupils.

And before Scottish Borders Council (SBC) consults about the school’s future, Revitalising Ettrick and Yarrow Valleys project officer Julie Nock is calling a meeting at Boston Hall on July 30 for all valleys residents.

“There is a lot of concern in the community about what is going to happen at the school and I wanted to get everybody together so they can air their views and see if something can come out of it,” she told The Wee Paper this week.

She met SBC education chief Glenn Rodger and the council’s head of property management Andrew Drummond-Hunt last week and said the council was happy to work with the community on the issue.

In a letter to residents, Julie said: “Normally in this situation, SBC would go into a 90-day consultation process to either mothball or close the school.

“However, we do have the option to find another purpose for the building and act as caretakers until such time as there is enough of a population to re-open the school.”

Residents would need a business plan and a contract with the council which could be terminated at any point, she said.

They would also take on the cost of day-to-day repairs, utility bills and insurance with the council’s only responsibility keeping the building wind and water tight.

One resident expressed disappointment that school resources had been given to Kirkhope Primary already.

“Even the computer equipment and telephones have been stripped from the premises, and the school secretary informed to finish off her administrative overtime for Ettrick Primary at Kirkhope Primary School,” they said.

They were concerned about staff and community stress levels and said SBC should have carried out a stress risk assessment.

Julie said SBC would make sure school equipment which had been bought by the community or through prize money would not be redistributed.

And she concluded: “In the short term, I feel we should all get together to discuss options for the building and to hear people’s views. SBC is happy to give us time to work out what we would like to do before the consultation process begins.”

An SBC spokesperson said: “At this stage no decisions have been made regarding the long-term future of Ettrick Primary School.

“As there will be no pupils in Ettrick Primary School next session, discussions with the director of education and lfelong learning and the community are ongoing on the best use for the Ettrick school building.”