Donald Gordon, depute director of education under the former Borders Region, warned the new councils to resist the temptation of regarding the education service as a "milch cow" and said it could be brought to its knees as a result.
Mr Gordon's concern was sparked by the decision of Scottish Borders Council to close three of its four outdoor centres, a move mirrored in Argyll where another three centres face closure because four west of Scotland authorities cannot afford to send children.
Mr Gordon, one of the longest serving education officials in the old regional councils, is equally worried that charging for music instruction and outdoor activities "is the tip of an iceberg of educational cuts invisible to the public and being suffered by the service this year, despite laudable efforts made to lessen them".
In a letter to his local newspaper, Mr Gordon scorned the decision by Borders to close three outdoor centres in order to find Pounds 35,000 worth of savings out of an education budget of Pounds 47 million.
He complains: "This saving, to put it into perspective, is the kind of money that just one employee of Scottish Borders Council, such as a secondary headteacher, can, at his own hand, save out of the annual school budget to spend on one or two large projects for his own school, or carry over to subsequent years, while his employer is combing every nook and cranny for such a sum."
Mr Gordon said the former regional council and its county predecessors had set their faces against sweeping away the network of outdoor centres "because of the tiny effect of such a move on the budget compared with its educational value".