The SNP says the future of rural schools in Banff and Buchan could be under threat as a Tory-led coalition at Aberdeenshire Council revealed plans for a review.
The move, which could affect Longhaven, Auchnagatt and St Combs primary schools, was exposed in an interview earlier this month.
No sooner had the Tory and Liberal administration been formed but the Tory leader Councillor Jim Gifford had said some schools in Aberdeenshire were not “in the right places”, creating a “huge cost” for the local authority.
He said there needed to be a “grown up” discussion about whether schools are in the right place.
Meanwhile, Councillor Peter Argyll said: "We need to look at it. The schools that are there were built in the 19th century to deal with the population back in the 19th century. Things are completely different now. We do need to look at it."
Earlier this year the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats had proposed to cut the education budget, including slashing the pupil support assistant budget and cutting £500,000 from additional needs education but were stopped in their tracks by the SNP.
Commenting SNP Candidate for Banff and Buchan, Eilidh Whiteford, said: “The Tory intent is clear – they want to axe rural schools in Aberdeenshire.
“We’ve already seen rural schools in the North East closed and it has a hugely detrimental effect on the local community.
“These schools are important community assets that need to be protected. Children at all these schools have the right to be educated in their own community.
“In rural Aberdeenshire, where schools have closed, the community has paid a heavy price.
“I recognise the value of local schools and I want our communities to thrive. I and my SNP colleagues will work with local communities and others to fight to protect these schools.”