Education chiefs have been warned pupils face huddling in temporary cabins in the playground due to overcrowding unless swift action is taken to build and extend schools in Aberdeen.
The council last week announced two new primaries – each costing more than £20 million – would open in 2022, while another in Torry will open the following year.
But administration councillors chose not to include funding for a “much-needed” extension at Bucksburn Academy, having controversially shelved the £1.5 million plans a month earlier.
That prompted one opposition councillor to warn of a return to the “bad old days” of classrooms fit to bursting.
SNP education committee member David Cameron warned: “Bucksburn isn’t a long term capacity issue – it is a capacity issue as of this August and will only get worse as we moved forward to August 2022.
“It is important we don’t delay things far too long as we do not want to go back to the bad old days of Aberdeen schools having playgrounds filled up with cabins in order for children to attend school and get their education properly.”
It follows a heated row over a delay by officials in bringing together an overview of the state of the city’s “crumbling” schools.
Members of the education committee, which includes parent, teacher and faith representatives, had urged staff to present their report at this month’s meeting.
Officials, however, said the school estate plan could not be completed in that time – and at a meeting of the full council it was agreed to delay it, possibly until after the next council election in summer 2022.
Vice education convener Tauqeer Malik said it would have been “impossible” for staff to have turned the around so quickly.
But secondary schools’ parent representative Rick Samson claimed the council’s plan to have a final decision made on Bucksburn before the estate plan was published was “totally illogical”.
“One of the excuses was that there has to be a lot of consultation but you must have a plan before you go into that, so can’t that be shared?” he asked.
The chief officer of the council’s corporate landlord department, Stephen Booth, said options for work required due to capacity issues would be brought forward at the end of the year.
He said the entire school estate was being assessed.
“We know there is a long-term capacity issue at Bucksburn and the team is working to pull together information on build rates, housing sales rates and other criteria which dictate capacity,” Mr Booth said.
“Bucksburn, and a number of other sites, will need to come forward later in the year in terms of how we deal with capacity.”
Postponed work at the Donside school, which only opened in 2009, was expected to provide space for up to 300 children.
Council forecasts already show the PPP academy, which the council will still be paying off in 2039, could be pushed more than 250 more pupils beyond its limits by 2025.
As funding commitments were pulled ahead of council budget talks, co-leader Douglas Lumsden said it would have been “foolhardy” to proceed, given the potential for changes in rules around school design after Covid.