New options needed for Viewforth High replacement

Viewforth High School Kirkcaldy
Viewforth High School Kirkcaldy

ALTERNATIVE “options” could be looked at by Fife Council as plans for a new, larger school at Kirkcaldy East to replace Viewforth High continue to be pushed back.

Fife Council says replacing Viewforth is a priority.

It had previously decided it would fund 50 per cent of the building costs for a new school, with the other 50 per cent coming from contributions from developers to accommodate new pupils expected to move into the area as a result of proposed new housing.

But the economic downturn has slowed house building projects.

As the timescale continues to slip, councillors at today’s (Thursday) executive committee meeting are expected to be asked to consider alternative options “to ensure that the issues of unsatisfactory accommodation in Viewforth High School are addressed as soon as possible”.

Funding

The Council had considered approaching the Scottish Government to seek funding through its Schools for the Future programme – part of the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) – a route previously used by the authority to secure some of the finance to build the new Auchmuty High School in Glenrothes.

But it’s not an option open to the Council this time.

A report to councillors by Ken Greer, the Council’s executive director for education and learning, states: “A Kirkcaldy East new build is considered by the service to be a priority.

“However, guidance from SFT states that accommodation pressures brought about by housing developments would be expected, wherever possible, to be funded with developers’ contributions.

“Therefore funding would be limited to providing accommodation for the existing pupil population only, currently 385 pupils.”

Mr Greer said a school of this size would not meet the future needs of learners and was therefore deemed unsuitable for inclusion as part of a bid for SFT funding.

As reported in last week’s Press, there are plans for a major development at Kingslaw which would include 1000 new homes, but this multi-phase project is still at an early stage. Even if planning consent is granted, building work would not commence until 2015 at the earliest.

Report

As there continues to be “a very real issue in terms of the condition of the existing Viewforth High School”, Mr Greer will ask councillors to consider “developing a revised approach to progress the project”.

Councillors are expected to agree to Mr Greer’s suggestion that he prepares a report on secondary education across Kirkcaldy, including outlining options on how to deal with the issues at Viewforth.

The report should be submitted to the executive committee in August.