Argyll and Bute Council defers school cuts move

image captionArgyll and Bute Council wants to cut its education budget by 15%

A decision on whether to consult the public over plans to close 26 schools in Argyll and Bute has been deferred.

Argyll and Bute Council's executive was due to consider plans to consult on reducing the number of primary schools from 80 to 54 in a bid to save £15m by 2014.

Under the plans, the primaries would amalgamate into 20 "receiving" schools.

However, some councillors wanted more time to consider the proposals so the decision was deferred to 25 November.

Councillor Dick Walsh, leader of the council, said: "There have been a number of questions that elected members have raised with me regarding the papers today which I wish to seek clarification on.

"I am also aware that questions have been raised by parents and parent bodies and these will also be looked at.

"We wish to ensure the process is followed correctly and everyone has sufficient, accurate information to base their comments on if a consultation follows."

Education cuts

The council said a recent review had revealed that 59% of all its primaries were less than half full and changes were needed to balance its budget.

Argyll and Bute Council said "challenging financial times" meant that significant changes were needed to the education budget to avoid deeper cuts elsewhere.

The rationale for the proposed changes has been questioned by the Scottish Rural Schools Network, which believes some of the projected savings may be minimal.

The authority's total annual budget is currently £278m.

It anticipates a shortfall of between £9m and £13m each year for the next three years.

The authority hopes to cut its education budget, currently £99.6m, by 15% over the same period.

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