Education officers at Aberdeenshire Council yesterday gave a “guarantee” that no decisions have been made on the future of Fraserburgh’s schools.
Several of the 11 schools in the area are under capacity, with more than 650 excess primary places.
And despite large-scale housing developments planned for the area, councillors were told there would still be empty desks at many sites.
Members of the authority’s education committee met yesterday and were asked to approve plans for an informal consultation, which will seek views from parents and the wider community on possible solutions – which could include merging or closing buildings.
The first in a series of meetings was originally planned for October 30, but it has now been put back a week after Councillor Charles Buchan claimed the community felt the consultation was being “railroaded” through.
The former teacher argued that with the school holidays starting next week, parent councils and families were not being given enough notice to come up with ideas.
He said: “I’ve already been in contact with parents and schools and am getting very negative feedback about this. Already in sections of Fraserburgh there is the impression that we’re railroading this through.
“We’re throwing consultation dates at people at very, very short notice.”
Rachael Goldring, asset project leader for the council, assured members the meeting would be one of at least three consultations that will be held around the Fraserburgh area to ensure as many people as possible are given their say.
She added: “I guarantee at this point we don’t have a solution in mind. We will take all the facts and figures. This is an opportunity to come and work with us and have discussions.”
The pledge was echoed by the council’s director of education, Maria Walker, who said: “There is absolutely nothing on the table at this point.”
A formal consultation on re-zoning in Peterhead is currently tkaing place to address overcrowding in schools in the town.
Ms Goldring added: “The Peterhead consultation is underway and is a straightforward one. Fraserburgh is not as straightforward because we have excess pupil spaces.
“Rather than just making decisions that on paper make sense, we want to engage with the community and get them to come up with solutions.”
Full details of the first consultation meeting will be confirmed at a later date.