BATTLE lines have been drawn between protestors and the council as the fight to save threatened schools began in earnest this week.
On Monday, East Dunbartonshire Council launched a consultation which asks the public to have their say on a raft of options that could lead to school mergers and closures.
A questionnaire is being distributed to 10,000 randomly selected households throughout the district and it will also be available on the council’s website, in libraries and by calling the council’s customer contact centre.
People have until Monday, February 4, to respond.
Many parents are furious that there are no options which would allow Bearsden, Milngavie or St Joseph’s primary schools to remain on their current sites.
The council wants to merge Bearsden and Castlehill primaries in a new school on the Castlehill site.
Milngavie Primary would cease to exist, with a new school on the Clober Primary site.
And there would no longer be a Roman Catholic priomary school in Milngavie, as St Joseph’s would be amalgamated with St Andrew’s on its site in Bearsden. Also, in Bearsden, Westerton Primary would be joined with Colquhoun Park Primary in a new building behind the existing hall and library.
Residents are concerned they may lose the hall, playing fields, tennis courts and the bowling club.
Angry parents from all the schools affected have set up action groups to fight the proposals.
Concerned Milngavie Primary parents have created a website – protectmilngavie.com – and a facebook page to gather support.
Gerry Jamieson, spokesperson for the group, said: “Milngavie Primary School belongs in the heart of our community and should remain local.
“The education and well- being of our children should be central to this review.
“Our children’s learning, health, social interaction and personal development must be the focus of any proposed change to their primary education.
“We feel the current consultation process and options for Milngavie Primary have not been subjected to wider strategic planning in terms of the social, cultural, economic and environmental impact on Milngavie.”
Meanwhile, Bearsden West Community Council has organised a public meeting at Westerton Hall this Friday, January 11, at 7.30pm.
They have invited all East Dunbartonshire councillors to attend to discuss proposals in Westerton.
Council leader Rhondda Geekie said: “We are ultimately looking to invest in our primary estate and build new, state-of-the-art schools throughout the area.
“We agreed at the outset that our consultation and engagement process would be extensive and include all of our communities.
“This consultation gives everyone in East Dunbartonshire the opportunity to have their say on the improvement and investment options that have come forward from interested parties back in September.”
The primary estate review was agreed by councillors in June last year and began with a series of workshops which all parent councils were invited to attend.
The resulting suggestions were assessed for viability and developed into option packages for each area.
Councillor Geekie added: “We have already delivered six fantastic new secondary schools in East Dunbartonshire and now it is time to invest in the primary estate, ensuring our young people have the best possible educational facilities.
“We face incredibly challenging financial times ahead. By committing to improve our primary estate now we are ensuring the required investment is planned for.
“We will be building on our reputation for educational excellence and improve our ability to deliver Curriculum for Excellence through the provision of modern, flexible educational space that will enhance the learning environment for our young people.”
The consultation questionnaire was developed by independent company IBP Strategy and Research.
To complete it online go to www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk, alternatively call the council’s customer contact centre on 0300 123 4510 or IBP on 01698 743075.