Parents fear the longed-for Culloden Academy expansion is at risk of suffering serious delays.
The school is currently running at almost 200 pupils over capacity, with the prospect of that figure exceeding 330 by the end of the decade.
The school has run with extra portable classrooms for almost 40 years in efforts to accommodate the spiralling numbers.
The saga took a new twist at a recent meeting where Highland Council appeared to suggest the opening of a new building could be set back from 2023 to 2025.
Looking for answers
Culloden community councillor Catherine Bunn said parents felt angry and disappointed by the lack of progress, despite earlier council promises.
She said: “Parents are trying to be positive, but we’re getting excuses, which now include Brexit and Covid.
“We’ve been looking for answers since November and have heard nothing.
“They’ve changed the location for the new building, but no groundwork, site investigations or environmental impact assessments have been done.
“We seem to have gone backwards, and are in complete disbelief.
“The council needs to be transparent about the timeline, and appoint a project manager otherwise nothing will happen.”
Parent Morvern Reid hit out at any setback, with her older children going through Culloden in its current dilapidated state, and her primary school daughter preparing to attend.
She said: “There are no maps, no architects’ plans, no concept, no surveys, nothing has been done, and yet we were guaranteed this by the council in November.
“To get the new building in two years seems impossible.”
Local councillor Trish Robertson said she was furious on seeing that only £47,000 had been spent on Culloden Academy this year, some three years into the project.
She said: “When I asked about this I was told we can’t get plans for it because of Covid.”
Another blow came when it was discovered that the original expansion site could not be built upon because it is in the sightlines of Culloden House Hotel, Mrs Robertson said.
She added: “Now it is to be put on land earmarked from the new Chapelton development.
“This build has been delayed long enough.”
‘This is never going to be ready’
Local member Ken Gowans has been campaigning for the school expansion for months.
He said: “The timeline is full of caveats, with every date dependent on something else, this is never going to be ready.”
A stakeholder group of parents, representatives, councillors and council officials has been set up to push the project forward, with its first meeting scheduled on February 24.
Highland Councillor Ken Gowans outside Culloden AcademyHighland Council’s estate strategy manager, Robert Campbell, said the timeline for the work still stands.
He said: “A contractor is about to be appointed for the refurbishment of toilets in the main building, demolition of the two vacant houses, and the installation of the modular units to provide 12 additional classrooms with toilets.
“All of this work is programmed for completion by the start of the new school session in August.
“The approved budget for the Phase 1 project is £7.7m.
“Some refurbishment of vacated classroom areas in the main building will continue after this date.
“All or some of the modular units may have to be retained after August 2023.”