£8m refurbishment plan for high school in Kirkcaldy – but no start date for work
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Fife’s Cabinet Committee reviewed the Capital Investment Plan on Thursday, which outlines the council’s major projects and expenditures for the current year.
In the report, the £8.3 million Balwearie refurbishment is listed as a future project with an expected completion date in 2026-27.
Councillor Lesley Backhouse (SNP for Burntisland, Kinghorn and Western Kirkcaldy) questioned the reasons for the delay.
“There are some real problems there and it seems to be getting pushed further and further down the line,” she said. “We have been promising work for more than three years and I’m really concerned that the fabric of the building is not fit for purpose.”
She continued: “It’s great that we’re building new high schools but if we can’t keep our current high schools that are in existence fit for purpose, how are our children going to have facilities that help them have positive learning experiences? We’ve got to maintain the facilities we’ve got.”
Finance officers couldn’t provide details about the delays on the spot, but promised to find the information offline.
Councillor David Ross, leader of the minority Labour administration, explained that Balwearie is in line to be replaced or refurbished.
“We are in the phase of completing the Dunfermline Learning Campus, we’re discussing Inverkeithing High School's replacement, we’re waiting to hear about government funding for two Glenrothes Schools, and Balwearie is next on the list,” he said. “You’re right that we absolutely need to check that work is going forward, but it’s always been our aspiration that ultimately there would be a new school there - but at the moment, we don’t know where the money is coming from.”
Earlier this year, the council granted planning permission to renovate the school's toilet facilities amidst student safety concerns. A new open plan toilet area was approved after the council said the current facilities are in urgent need of refurbishment to tackle both complaints about bullying and vandalism.
The plans also included “internal alterations and a new window panel with ventilation.”