Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Highland Council Offices and Schools Could Close Early By BBC News

Classroom generic
All Highland Council offices and schools could be closed from lunchtime on Fridays under proposals aimed at saving the local authority money.
Views have been sought from the public on the plan and other ideas to help the council tackle a potential funding gap of more than £21m next year.
Reducing the working and school week to 4.5 days would result in significant savings, the council has said.
Cutting class-time has been suggested before but was opposed by some parents.
Highland Council said most staff would still be working their existing contracted hours, but doing so over 4.5 days.
It added that some people may wish to reduce their contracted hours and this option could be available on a voluntary basis where practical.

'Consulting widely'

Chief executive Steve Barron said: "It is important that to note that this is currently a proposal only, one which needs further work and which would only be implemented with the agreement of elected members in February.
"Clearly there will be some service areas where this could pose practical difficulties, hence the wish to consult and to think carefully about impact and feasibility."
Budget leader Bill Fernie said: "At this stage this is just a proposal, but we think it is a good idea and one which compare very favourably with some of the other options coming forward, and we will be consulting widely.
"It is our priority to maintain services and jobs in Highland and as such, this is part of a package of proposed measures, with the aim of setting a balanced budget, whilst protecting key services."

Angry backlash

A year ago, Highland Council delayed a proposal to reduce the time pupils in primaries 4, 5, 6 and 7 spend in class.
The local authority said the decision had been made because other councils were considering the same idea and it had now become a "national debate".
But Highland Council had experienced an angry backlash from parents on the matter at the time.
A petition was raised against the plan and it also drew criticism from parents on social media sites.
Bob Coleman, of the teaching union the EIS, has raised concerns about the latest proposal.
He told BBC Radio Scotland: "The council has looked from time to time at cutting the primary pupil week and this might be an opportunity for the council to do that.
"We have always opposed cutting the pupil week in primary schools.
"From an educational point of view that would mean a significant loss of teaching time. It would amount to something like 19 days per session - seven months over a child's primary life."
He added: "A child's entitlement to education shouldn't be sacrificed on the altar of austerity."

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