* The new Highland Council's education committee will decide at its first meeting on April 3 whether a closures programme should go ahead. Facing a pound;21 million package of cuts across the board and an estimated 25 per cent rise in council tax, the authority is almost certain to press ahead in an effort to reduce 5,990 surplus primary places and 735 in secondaries.
A report by officials warned that only a third of the places could be realistically removed given the location and nature of many schools. Savings would be limited to pound;1.6 million by continuing bills for staff, supplies and transport.
Highland has been spurred into action by the Accounts Commission's Room for Learning report which urged authorities to review schools that were less than 60 per cent full. Some 84 Highland primaries and four secondaries are in that category.