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Dunblane four quit amid row over cash

Squabbles over money and poor communication are behind the decisions by four members of Dunblane Primary school board to resign, writes Neil Munro.

The departure of two parents and two co-optees took place at the board's meeting on November 27, but only emerged this week as the troubled community became embroiled in a row over Stirling Council's initial refusal to allow the bereaved families to plant a Christmas tree in the cemetery where some of the pupils are buried.

The board agreed that it would make no public comment on the resignations which have left it with just three members - Mike Robbins, the chairman, Gerry McDermott, who was a highly visible spokesman in the aftermath of the March 13 shootings, and a teacher representative.

But Ann Hill, president of the Scottish School Board Association, who has been heavily involved, confirmed that there had been considerable "in-fighting" on a range of issues within and beyond the board. "Clashes over money and lack of communication are at the root of the problem," she said.

Mrs Hill, who attended the board's meeting last month, believes all the members should have resigned to give everyone a fresh start. "They have been through so much and I really think they all need a rest," she added. Mr Robbins and Mr McDermott, however, appear "reluctant to let go".

Indecision over money which has poured into the school is another focus of unrest. The cash is held in an ordinary bank account, jointly administered by the board and the parent-teacher association, and is believed to be approaching Pounds 1.5 million. It is separate from the other two funds run by the Stirling Observer and the Dunblane Trust.

Mr Robbins and Mr McDermott are understood to be anxious that the money in the bank be used for Dunblane Primary, as people donated it for that purpose. But other board members and the bereaved families believe it should go to the wider community, as everyone in the town was affected.

Mrs Hill also blames some of the unrest on "poor communications between board members, between the board and the bereaved families, and between the board and the wider community. The board also felt it was not getting support from the education authority, while the authority has always said the support was there if needed".

Elections for new board members will take place early in the new year. The board is still quorate, since a third of parent members remain.

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