Serious concerns over Flintshire schools budget position
Serious concerns have been raised over the budget position of Flintshire’s schools.
It comes after discussions were held over a report which shows that six of the county’s eleven secondary schools hold a combined deficit of £1.6 million.
Offset by the positive outturn at other high schools, the overall negative balance is almost £1.3m.
In the report, Flintshire Council admitted there was a risk that schools may need to review their staffing structures, resulting in job losses, increased class sizes and a reduced curriculum.
Chief executive Colin Everett told councillors that austerity measures had caused a major impact on school budgets.
He said: “This is a deteriorating position in Wales and England.
“It is an issue of serious concern to us because it’s not improving and we’re concerned it’s not stabilising at this point.
“We don’t have a policy of giving supplementary funding, we can’t do write offs, but we could do temporary funding to improve the situation.
“This is a significant challenge in light of insufficient funding from central government in Flintshire and Wales.”
The largest deficit held in 2017/18 was approximately £586,000 at Holywell High School, followed by about £413,000 at St Richard Gwyn Catholic High School in Flint and £245,000 at Ysgol Maes Garmon in Mold.
Deficits are currently offset by the collective balance of schools in the county, with primary schools having a surplus of approximately £2.4m and special schools a positive balance of £168,000.
But officers warned that position could change as pupil numbers in primary schools decrease and those in secondary schools go up.
Claire Homard, chief officer for education and youth, said: “The birth rate in Flintshire is actually dropping so this year we’ve seen a drop in nursery school admissions.
“We can see that our primary schools are set to drop if that model is accurate.”
The overall level of reserves held by Flintshire schools was £1.275m at the end of March 2018, which represents a decrease of 11 per cent compared with the previous year.
The net deficit for secondary schools increased by £410,000 or 47 per cent.
This was offset by a £314,000 (15 per cent) increase in primary reserves.
In March, the authority received an unexpected school maintenance grant from Welsh Government of £710,000, but said it ‘masked the underlying trend’.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter
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