Alternatives to closure (Jacqueline Johnston)

For two years now we have argued that the projected savings of the Blueprint for Education just don’t add up.

Since the start headline secondary pupil cost comparisons have been used as propaganda by the vociferous closure lobby.

The fact that after nine months the report into these figures, which underpin their arguments for closure, is still not in the public domain, is simply shocking.

Trying to bring transparency to the financial claims has been a David and Goliath task where we have had to rely on freedom of information requests (FOIR).

Through media reports, we now know that budgeting for early retirement payments are one obvious difference between Shetland and Orkney.

Another obvious difference (between Orkney, Western Isles and Shetland) is the ongoing Blueprint costs unique to Shetland. A FOIR reveals a revised budget of £367,594 for the Blueprint in the year 2013/14 alone.

The pupil cost comparison report from the chief executive must be made available to the Shetland public and national observers.

We ask for public publication of the full pupil cost comparison report.

Additionally, we call for closures to be taken off the table and evidence that the SIC will now comply with the forthcoming legislation requirements to fully engage with communities and realise the alternatives to closures that exist.

Jacqueline Johnston
(on behalf of Aith Action)
Virdaview,
Houlmalees,
Bixter.

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