LOCAL authorities have pushed up the cost of implementing the McCrone report's recommendations to almost pound;550 million.
Fresh calculations by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities on continuing professional development, clerical support and training schools have raised by pound;72 million the estimated cost of the full package of proposals on pay and conditions. Any early retirement package would further increase the overall cost.
When Professor Gavin McCrone published the findings of his independent inquiry at the end of May and placed a figure of pound;190 million against his recommendations, the authorities instantly responded by doubling the sum.
It has now revised its figures in a submission to the Scottish Executive on the next three-year round of local government funding. Minister are due to reveal their spending plans next month.
In new estimates, the Convention say that the bill for professional development could be as much as pound;76 million a year by 2003-04, clerical support would add pound;8.6 million and training schools pound;4.8 million.
"McCrone will be expensive; excellence does not come cheap and a quality education is key for all children," Cosla states.
Danny McCafferty, the authorities' education spokesman, said: "Most people know that the Cosla estimates of the cost of the McCrone report are more accurate. But it depends whether McCrone is going to be implemented in its entirety. Let's first agree the principles of what we want to implement. Principles come first, money second. I still maintain the position that McCrone is a good starting block."