Even the 'winners' have tough choices

East Renfrewshire, one of the "winners" in the shake-up of local government, has still to take a final decision on whether to cut Pounds 877,000 from its Pounds 40 million education budget.

The education committee agreed last week to hand the matter over to the policy and resources committee meeting on February 5. This group of senior councillors who lead the joint Labour and Liberal Democrat administration will decide how far it can go in balancing cuts against demands for expansion.

The most controversial saving would be Pounds 224,000 on reducing pupils' eligibility to the statutory national school transport distances. The repairs and maintenance budget would lose Pounds 100,000, while reductions in school staffing would cut 16 full-time posts.

But education officials also have proposals for growth which would add more than Pounds 1 million to the budget, creating 39 full-time posts.

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