Plans to build new four new schools in Aberdeen could be shelved or delayed – unless the public convinces the city council to press on.
Devastating budget cuts have been put to city residents, with the most ominous concerning learning.
Education budget lines account for around £31 million of suggested cuts brought forward by city accountants.
It comes after major cuts to schools were threatened earlier this year, but avoided during crunch talks.
School kitchens could close, with supermarket vouchers issued to children in need in lieu of free meals. Free breakfast provision at schools could also come to an end.
Meanwhile, free school transport could be halted to save £2m, schools could be cleaned less often and funding for music tuition cut.
Lollipop crossing patrollers – who only weeks ago were told they would not be moved from their preferred spots – could be removed from all city schools, or only kept where these is no pedestrian crossing.
But the largest proposed saving is to stop or delay the school estate programme, priced at £12m over the next four years.
In the drive to slash £83m from council funding by April 2028, primaries to cater for Bucksburn and Newhills, Grandhome and Loirston could be reconsidered.
A new secondary for youngsters living in Hazlehead and Countesswells is also on the line.
Another £7m could be clawed back halving the number of funded hours in city nurseries for all but the worst-off.
Millions has been spent expanding Aberdeen’s early learning centres to accommodate children for the funded 1,140 hours.
But if the change were to go through, free provision would drop to 600 hours for families on higher income – with an option to buy more if there is space for their kids.
Aberdeen City Council is polling the public on a raft of budget cuts and tax rises, as politicians try to balance the books.
Council chiefs have promised that every view submitted in the online consultation matters.
“It will be invaluable to learn about attitudes towards service delivery, how operations might be supported, and the potential impacts of any changes on people,” Liberal Democrat council co-leader Ian Yuill told us.
What do you think of the proposed budget cuts? Let us know in our comments section below.
Residents are urged to have their say on the council’s online portal ahead of crunch budget talks. Image: Kami Thomson/DC ThomsonBut even if the drastic cutbacks at nurseries were backed by the public, it could be a course of action that would put the council Mr Yuill co-leads with the SNP on a collision course with the SNP Scottish Government.
Ministers would need to approve the multi-million-pound cuts to ELC provision.
And another big money option – in the race to £83m – would be similar.
Finance chiefs have suggested cutting the school week by two hours and 30 minutes a week in Aberdeen’s primary and secondary schools to save another £7m over the next two years.
But again, this would require the nod from Holyrood.
Councillors considered shortening the school day in March.
However, then Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville threatening financial sanctions if the Granite City strayed from the ordained 25-hour-a-week minimum.
Find out more about the other proposed Aberdeen City Council budget cuts – and find out how to have your say – here.