North and north-east councils have spent more than £270,000 on mothballed schools.
Aberdeenshire spent £141,972.63 on two mothballed schools over the past three years with Orkney coming in at £95,466.48 for two vacant buildings.
Shetland’s total was at £35,931 for two schools and Aberdeen City’s total was zero as they have no mothballed schools.
The figures have been obtained using freedom of information laws.
In Aberdeenshire, Strachan School has been mothballed since July 2017 and Longhaven primary has been the same since April 2018.
The authority spent more than £51,000 on mothballing Strachan in 2017/18, £22,707 in 2018/19 and finally just over £10,000 in 2019/20.
At Longhaven the costs for 2018/19 were £32,461 and £25,141 for the next year.
On Orkney, the mothballed schools at North Ronaldsay and Flotta totalled up costs of £50,518.64 and £44,948.44 respectively over the course of three years.
The local authority revealed that some of those costs were redundancy payments, paying for a caretaker and insurance.
In the Shetland Isles Papa Stour and Skerries primaries are both mothballed with the associated costs coming in at £12,003 and £23,923 between 2017/18 and 2019/20.
School mothballing down to a lack of pupils
Mothballing a school usually takes place when there are not enough pupils to justify keeping it open.
Last year, Aberdeenshire Council agreed to close Strachan School permanently and reassign the catchment to create a dual-zone between Banchory Primary and Finzean School.
Longhaven School was closed after the April holidays in 2018, with no headteacher in place and few remaining pupils.
Flotta Community School in Orkney was mothballed due to there being no young children on the island and Shetland’s Skerries School went the same way when its only pupil moved to Lerwick.
David Duguid MP, whose Banff and Buchan constituency includes Longhaven, said deciding to temporalily close a school “isn’t taken lightly” by authorities.
He said: “Mothballing is a serious decision that isn’t taken lightly.
“Rural schools are the core of their communities, so it’s vital councils allow enough time to consider the impact any changes might have.
“Longhaven needs the numbers to make it viable for pupils to learn.
“These are large sums to spend but I think families should get every opportunity for input.
“I hope the easing of Covid restrictions will give local people the chance to engage face to face on Longhaven’s future.”
Councils say the schools need to kept in good condition
A spokesperson for Aberdeenshire Council said: “Mothballing a school gives the opportunity for it to re-open should circumstances change.
“Ongoing costs may include salaries not yet assigned to another school but otherwise maintenance costs are minimal, and far less than running a school with an unviable number of pupils.”
A spokeswoman from Shetland Islands Council said: “The figures referred to include elements such as energy costs and council tax.
“Shetland Islands Council has no plans to reopen these schools in the short term, but they remain within the estate as part of our commitment to providing education in our more remote isles.”
A statement from Orkney Islands Council said: “Schools which are mothballed must be maintained up to a suitable standard in case they are to reopen.”
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