THE news that there is #25m more for Scottish education than announced in the local authority settlement has brought additional hope to the small rural communities in Argyll who are threatened with the closure of their local schools.
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Argyll and Bute Council, while window-dressing their case for closure with words such as ''rationalisation'', have constantly drawn attention to the financial strictures under which they operate and the need to save money by amalgamating schools.
But published savings are minuscule once the cost of teachers (who will continue in the authority's employment), school meals (which will continue to be needed wherever the children find themselves), and transport (which will actually increase) are taken into account.
The closure of Kilmodan School from August 1999 would actually save less than #10,000 per annum on the most favourable reading of the council's figures, and nothing at all on an alternative analysis; #10,000 is 0.04% of the additional money announced by Brian Wilson, but its addition to the Argyll and Bute Council budget would preserve two high quality jobs in our community, allow a community focus to continue. enable the community to continue to attract younger couples with children, and perpetuate high quality education that is respected and appreciated by every family in the area.
It will also mean that the whole issue of rural schools and their value could be properly debated by the new Scottish parliament, allowing that body to set the agenda for Scottish education in the new millennium, not have its hands tied by premature and short-sighted decisions made on the very eve of its establishment.
The same argument applies to virtually all the rural schools presently threatened by closure throughout Scotland. It is an argument about the future of whole communities and it can be solved now by the application of a tiny fraction of the Chancellor's largesse
Michael W Russell,
Kilmodan School Action Committee,
Feorlean, Glendaruel, Argyll.