18th January 2010

Ratho Primary School

Parent Council Minutes

18th January 2010

Present: Anne Pettit, Sarah Dignan, Councillor Paisley, Councillor Cairns, Nicola Mowatt, Annette Wilson, Mike Humphries, Ruth Gillan, Angie Muir, Gillian Brown, Viv Bowden, Christine Paterson, Shona Johnson, Brenda Binnie, Kim Craven

Apologies: Graeme Muir, Catriona Black

  1. School Budget Cuts

Annette talked of the meeting for Parent Council chairs in December 2009, when Chairs were informed that the Council were looking at £13.7 million in cuts in the Children and Families budget for the coming financial year, 2010 – 2011.

Councillor Cairns indicated that this would realistically mean a 2.5% cut in devolved budgets in schools. What is being looked at currently by councillors is what the officials have put forward in terms of budget cuts. There is lots of ongoing discussion at council level and that cuts could be possibly be taken from other council areas.

The Council will meet in February 2010 to discuss the options available.

Savings could be made from areas such as Community High School budgets and not implementing free school meal for all in P1-3 this year.

Other savings to be made include closing 4 primary schools, the possibility of cutting specialist teachers for P1 and P2 classes, school librarians covering more than one school and changes made when dealing with absence cover for teachers.

One major outlay schools have to constantly consider is absence cover as it costs £220 per day for a supply teacher. Short hours can be covered in school but long-term absences would need to be paid for out of school budgets so there is no leeway in this part of the school budget.

Kim asked what the cuts meant for Ratho Primary School. Mrs Pettit says that the school budget is already down to the bone. The only possible saving that could be made would be stopping the Parent Mail service for which the school is charged and running an equivalent in house service. There was a consensus that parents would have be consulted on this as they would have to agree to their email addresses being used by the school. It was agreed that there is excellent communication between the school and parents and it would be a shame to lose this.

It was noted that a lot of the cuts are already being controlled centrally, and passed onto schools, for example the trade waste bills.

The problem of the school radiators was brought to question but unfortunately the huge cost of replacing them would have to come from the school budget.

There were concerns from the PTA about the future use of PTA funds being used for more fundamental costs needed in the running of the school, instead of the traditional funded activities such as parties, paying for the pantomime etc.

Questions were raised surrounding the issuing of contracts to complete any works done in school and the buying in of supplies. At the moment contractors and suppliers have to be on an approved council list which means that these might not be the cheapest option for schools who have no option but to use them.

Staffing cuts would only be made if schools were told to from council level.

As a parent body, we can take out concerns to other levels of government such as our local MP’s. There is a list on the website of contact details.

There is an ongoing petition about the proposed budget cuts by the Edinburgh Parent Council Network, which represents 60-70% of schools, which parents could access through Parent Mail or directly through the I Petitions web site.

The basic question is therefore is there any point in us as a Parent Council say something about the cuts. A show of hands was taken on the question and there was unanimous support for a response from us about our concerns surrounding the budget cuts.

Annette will draft a response and will send out details of the online petition.

There is a pre-budget CCWP meeting on Monday 25th January at the City Chambers for Parent Council Chairs. Mike said he should be able to attend.

  1. School Dinners

On Monday 8th February several parents including Christine, Ruth, Brenda and Annette will try out school dinners with the children and report back at the next meeting on how they found the experience! The costs involved in taking a school meal for an adult are £1.83 for 1 course, £2.65 for two courses and £0.83 for just a pudding.

  1. School Garden

Shona gave the council a very comprehensive run down on the development of the school garden to date. She is in the process of collating a written report, which parents can access through the Parent Council website. Please see attached report for specific details of costings, monies spent and progress to date.

Shona reported that there is £1000 left in the garden budget. Transport for the standing stones for the quarry could be £300.00.

There is a meeting for the garden group on 28th January 2010 in the bridge Inn. All welcome!

The cubs would like to use the garden to do their Challenge badge.

The Spring Fair is on Saturday March 13th and the R.A.G. (Ratho Action Group) Veggie Group are going to be selling various vegetable plants such as peas and beans.

Teachers have been asked to complete feedback forms on the classes’ use of the garden and outdoor classroom.

  1. Website

Gillian will send out a Parent Mail to inform parents of the Parent Council website.

  1. PTA

Kim fed back on behalf of the PTA.

The Ceilidh will take place on Friday 29th January. The Spring Fair is on Saturday 13th March.

There is currently £3000 in the PTA bank account, of which £1400 has been earmarked for the refurbishment of the infant playground.

  1. AGM

The date for the AGM is Monday 26th April where it is hoped that there will be a presentation from children from the Pupil Council followed by AGM business.

16 Sept 2010, 12:42