Plans to permanently close school hit by oil leak approved

Aberdeenshire Council estimated it could cost more than £1m to bring Gartly School back into use.

Plans to permanently close Gartly School in Aberdeenshire hit by oil leak approved Google Maps

Councillors have approved plans to press ahead with the permanent closure of the Gartly School.

Aberdeenshire Council’s education and children’s services committee met earlier today to discuss the future of the Marr school.

They agreed that a recommendation be made to full council to close the oil-leak-hit facility for good.

Now the fate of the mothballed school will be determined at the end of next month.

A major oil leak was discovered at Gartly School back in December 2018.

Its pupils were then reassigned to nearby Kennethmont and Rhynie schools.

The decision to mothball Gartly was made in August last year after the school roll dropped to just seven.

Aberdeenshire Council had estimated that it could cost more than £1m to bring the school back into use.

A public consultation on the proposed closure was launched in December last year and ended in March.

Pupils were also asked for their opinions as part of the discussions.

The Gartly community had fought to reopen the school but unfortunately their efforts were dashed by the council.

Members of the Marr area committee discussed the consultation report last month.

Members voiced their disappointment at the situation but asked if the community playing field could be maintained for local residents.

Councillor Louise McAllister said that children seemed “settled” in their new schools and noted that toilet facilities had been upgraded at Kennethmont School to increase its capacity.

She said the closure of Gartly could “offer up a broader education experience” for its pupils and would result in children making more friends.

McAllister added: “These are all good and positive things, albeit coming on the back of an unfortunate incident at the school.”

But she asked if the playing fields would be taken into consideration going forward.

Education officer Maxine Booth revealed that work on the playing fields is being progressed.

She told the committee that an external company had to take on the grass cutting due to ground damage.

Ms Booth said the work had to be outsourced as the council’s own grass cutting equipment was deemed to be “no longer appropriate” for the job.

She also reassured members that children living in the Gartly School dual-zone catchment area would be entitled to school transport.

Councillor Jim Gifford gave credit to council officers involved with the consultation saying it was a “tremendous piece of work and not easy at times”.

He also extended his thanks to those who had taken part in the process adding that it had reached a “really good conclusion”.

Meanwhile councillor Andrew Hassan asked if items inside the school could be saved following a request from pupils at Kennethmont.

Ms Booth said that the process of clearing Gartly School had already started.

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