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£120k cost of keeping two-pupil school open

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By Rod Edgar
Annan and Eskdale
£120k cost of keeping two-pupil school open

A PRIMARY school with just two pupils will not close before next year — despite costing the taxpayer £120,000 per annum.

Mouswald Primary is expected to shrink to just one pupil within the year, but the council says it is obliged by a new Scottish Government law covering rural schools to carry out a full statutory consultation process.
Vanessa Morris from the Schools for the Future team said: “At September 2014 we only had three pupils at Mouswald Primary School.
“At present we have two pupils within the school, and we have no other enrolments that are coming in in 2015/16.”
And revealing the roll will shrink to just one pupil in the next session, she added: “The one pupil who will be set to remain at the school? The parents do not want to have that individual child at the school, and for their education to be given on their own.”
The process to close Mouswald was begun by the education committee in March.
Ms Morris said: “We started the process prior to the summer, but due to new legislation from the Scottish Government with regard to rural schools, we restarted that process to ensure that we were being extremely rigorous.”
However, members of Annandale and Eskdale Area Committee expressed frustration when told data following consultation would not be delivered back to Education before early next year, and that a decision for closure could then not be enacted for another seven weeks.
Annandale South’s Richard Brodie said it was ‘a great pity that we’re having to go through this consultation process’, while Annandale East and Eskdale’s Denis Male branded it, ‘crazy’.
And Annandale North’s Gail Macgregor questioned the ongoing costs of keeping the school open, which Ms Morris revealed as £121,000 each year.
Councillor Ian Carruthers, meanwhile, expressed disappointment that supported transport to other schools might not be extended to parents who had already relocated children to other schools. Ms Morris pledged to investigate.

Ms Morris said if Mouswald was closed she understood the local authority would offer a relocation to one of the next five nearest schools, but that the catchment area would be transferred to Collin Primary.
Staff members both teaching and non-teaching would be offered redeployment from August 2016.

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