A council study is under way to see if savings of £250,000 can be found from projects in Yell to spend on enlarging the proposed £8.5 million Mid Yell Junior High School.
Parents and teachers are concerned that so much has been lopped off the building plans to cut costs that it will be too small, requiring huts to be added within a few years.
North Isles councillor Robert Henderson failed last week to persuade the services committee that an expanded version of the school should be approved now and the money found, with £150,000 coming from not demolishing the existing school and a saving of up to £450,000 from letting the council roads squad use it instead of building a new base.
Mr Henderson and other councillors had been told by the school’s parent council it was “far from happy” about the revised school plans which have seen 40 per cent (1,600 square metres) of floor space hacked from the original plan. There is considered not to be enough room for a range of purposes, including music, special needs and community space.
Two extra modules could be added to the timber-framed building by Danish builder MT Høygaard but it would add £250,000 and six weeks to the building programme.
Fellow North Isles members Laura Baisley and Josie Simpson supported Mr Henderson’s bid to get the extra work agreed now. Mrs Baisley said staff members were not comfortable with the pared-down design. Other councillors supported the pair, including Bill Manson who agreed that the SIC did not build schools big enough and invariably they soon needed an extension.
Head of schools Helen Budge said the council had tried to take on board all the concerns about space and she assured committee members the school, as designed, was fit for purpose.
Councillor Allan Wishart was against expanding the school until the money to pay for it is found out of savings first. For instance, it might turn out not to be practical to keep the old school and give it to the DLO, he said, leaving a big hole in council budgets.
Mr Wishart’s stance won the day on the casting vote of chairman Gussie Angus, who took the view that if Mid Yell was allowed to expand its space and cost the same should apply to the new Anderson High School, which has been slimmed down to save money.