The people of St Andrews are being urged to support plans for a new custom built secondary school at Pipeland, at the edge of town.
Councillor Bryan Poole, the council’s executive spokesperson for education, is calling on people in St Andrews and the Tay bridgehead area to get behind the plans and has praised the patience shown by parents who have been left disappointed at previous attempts to choose a suitable site in St Andrews and finally get the building work under way.
“The young people who go to Madras deserve a much better school and, to be honest, it’s a disgrace we haven’t done it quicker,” he explained.
“Pipeland is our preferred site and I would appeal to people to get behind this.
“I think parents in St. Andrews and the Tay bridgehead area have made compromises in that they have shown extreme patience with the council and the politicians for the past five or six years.
“At a recent meeting, I made an appeal to the people with an interest in the heritage of the town because they have to make a compromise here too.
“The children and the teachers deserve a new school, as good as the new Dunfermline High, and I hope the community in St Andrews and north Fife can come together and support this proposal.
“I really believe that if we do that and get behind this we will wonder what all the fuss was about in a few years time.”
Councillor Poole spoke to the Citizen at the recently-opened Dunfermline High campus.
The £40 million school was designed to be eco- friendly, provide a spacious, bright environment for teachers and pupils and boast facilities such as a sports hall, two gymnasiums, a dance studio, floodlit pitch and a recording studio.
Councillor Poole believes that is the blueprint for Madras, with Pipelands being the only site that can deliver such a school.
“I’m convinced that a school like Dunfermline High is the kind of place we should be planning to have our young people taught.
“The results from Madras are good, the teaching going on there is good and the leadership is good as well so there are all the right ingredients.
‘‘I think, if we can get new school as quickly as we can, then it will be even better.
“If there are no objections I believe we could have the new school open for August 2016 - Dunfermline High took two years to build.
“If we can make a final decision on a site in December and get the three-month formal consultation started in the new year, it could be settled by next easter.”
While Pipelands is very much the preferred site, council officials are still exploring the viability of Petheram Bridge as an alternative for the new school.
Using that site could involve having to build on the elevated section of the car park and constructing a bridge across the road to make use of the sports facilities at Station Park.
It would also involve finding a new location for a car park with the current Madras site on South Street being one suggestion.
Concerns have already been raised about the choice of the Pipeland site for the new school.
Lindsay Matheson, former rector at Madras, said he hoped at least one site to the west of the town would be considered when a decision is being made.
“As the search for suitable sites for the new Madras narrows my earnest hope would be that those most concerned in the process such as councillors and council officers strain every sinew to deliver at least one good site on the western side of St Andrews, despite any difficulties that may have to be overcome,” he explained.