Ferney Lee is one of the most successful primary schools in Calderdale. What has been achieved by the present Head and Governing body is quite outstanding.
With regards the future I understand and sympathise with people’s concerns regarding the options for development as I also like the old Grammar School building.
The position is that the 60s building is collapsing and cannot be used, it has been in a dilapidated state for some time and needs to be demolished. This meant that there was a need to make alterations to the old building and whilst this was happening it made sense to make long term renovations.
The initial view of the architect was that the costs of these renovations would not be massively different from that of replacing the Edwardian buildings with a new school which would be designed to be easier to manage, cheaper to run and meet the needs of a modern primary school.
Following this initial report, the Cabinet favoured the replacement option but deferred a final decision until the more detailed costings and plans have been done. One of the key issues is the current running costs for Ferney Lee which are the highest of any single form entry school in Calderdale.
These costs significantly reduce the resources available for teaching. The head has already said she had to cut one teaching post due to budget pressure and initial indicators are that a new build could reduce running costs by £25,000 a year.
Some parents, and others in the community, are looking at the building in terms of architecture and the history of the old Grammar School.
With unlimited budgets it is possible that this building could be upgraded and improved environmentally but we are not in that position and even that work would not alter the fact that this is not a suitable building for a modern primary school.
The size and layout of the rooms make management difficult and is detrimental to the cohesion of the school as a whole.
As a council we need to look at the best option for providing for the long term educational needs of young people.
What is important is providing a good school environment with adequate resources and this does mean not burdening future generations with high running costs and maintenance bills for a building that was never designed to be used as a primary school.
Whatever the final outcome, we are looking forward, providing schools and a future for the young people of Todmorden, schools that are fit for the 21st century.
Coun Steve Sweeney