Demand for more storage space and room for special needs pupils were behind a decision by councillors to plump for a larger lay-out for the new Mid Yell Junior High School on Wednesday.
Councillors voted in favour of the move after an impassioned plea by Yell councillor Robert Henderson, who said youngsters in the island deserved the best school as much as pupils who will attend the new Anderson High School.
The move will add another £250,000 on to the £8.5 million price tag which has been put on the new school, however members voted by 12 to six in favour of Mr Henderson’s call for an extra two block-units to be incorporated into the plans.
Currently the school offers 144 square metres of overall storage space, 75 square metres for music practice and storage room for instruments and 27 square metres for special needs pupils.
Councillors were given the choice of two options for a new building when they met at the Full Council, just one day after visiting the existing school to see for themselves the difficulties staff and pupils put up with.
Members said they had seen instruments packed into a music room because there were no proper storage facilities, and one special needs pupil had had to take his lessons in a cupboard because there was no room for him to stand while council members were in the school.
A report before the council recommended the first option, which promised to provide 225 square metres of storage space.
However Mr Henderson said the first choice, or option A, offered little for youngsters in the island.
“I look at these plans and it’s good but we’re not looking at like for like … I don’t see why pupils in Yell should have less of an education as what they will have at the Anderson High School,” he said.
“This school is being driven by budgetary constraints and not by education. We have to provide an educational facility that’s good for the bairns. If we can’t come within budget then we have to look at ways to finance it.”
He was backed by another North Isles member, Laura Baisley, who said it would be “spending money to save”, as it would not be long before a larger school was being called for in any case.
However Bill Manson recommended sticking to the budget, even if that meant restricting the size of the school.
“I believe the right quality of education can be delivered in the new Mid Yell High School. Storage space will be properly designed.”
He said education had to “cut its cloth” to fit. However Mr Henderson said common sense had “prevailed” when councillors voted in his favour.