A long-awaited review of Aberdeen’s “crumbling” schools has been delayed again – possibly until after the next council election.
Councillors rowed over proposals to further postpone the estate plan, this time until summer 2022.
The review was first ordered in March 2018 and its deferral was the subject of a bitter argument at the last meeting of the council’s education committee.
Back in January, members voted for the final review document to be brought to them at this month’s meeting, despite officials warning they needed until next summer as their attentions have been firmly fixed on the pandemic.
The school estate plan will make recommendations on improvements needed at a number of city schools,.
Officers have argued they need the “most up-to-date” data available.
A further delay was opposed by Liberal Democrat education spokesman Martin Greig, who said: “Waiting for the data to be finalised is just a dream.
“Demographics are constantly changing.
“The administration is burying its head in the sand.
“There are some areas where new schools are being provided but it seems to be a bit of a postcode lottery as there are so many other school buildings which are crumbling and falling apart.
“With so many complaints there is no strategic plan for how our Victorian and 20th Century school buildings are going to be sustained.
“Parents and staff have the right to know.”
A start was made on the review using school roll forecasts produced in 2018 – the year the review was requested – but these have been deemed “no longer current”.
Due to changes in data laws, the council and NHS Grampian – which is a key source of statistics on the number of pre-school aged children in each part of Aberdeen – are expected to take another two months to come to an agreement.
Corporate landlord chief officer Stephen Booth said head teachers expected a significant increase in the number of S4 pupils choosing to stay on to S5 due to the pandemic and its impact on the local jobs market.
Meanwhile, reduced migration due to coronavirus and Brexit might mean a predicted population increase is reversed.
Council co-leader Jenny Laing, said: “While we acknowledge the impact the pandemic has had on our timescales in finalising the school estate plan, our commitment to delivering top class schools remains unchanged and we look forward to an exciting future for our school estate.
“We are determined to deliver first class educational facilities across the city to give our young people the best starts in life.
“We have invested tens of millions in new schools in recent years, with a further £23 million being invested in nursery settings to allow us to provide the best early learning and childcare settings to meet our expanded hours offering.”
Everything from bringing in hydrogen-powered bin lorries to planting wildflower meadows on empty council lots is under consideration.
Other measures could include linking more homes to combined heat and power networks and improving glazing and insulation in council homes.
A first major step will be taken next week, as councillors agree their inaugural carbon budget alongside spending plans.