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More schools under financial pressure

Created on 11/07/2017 @ 06:54
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The Audit and Scrutiny committees of Powys County Council are to review the financial viability of schools.

The joint working group will look at the present funding arrangement in the light of an increasing number of schools in or predicting deficit budgets going forward.

The majority of money in the schools’ budget goes directly to schools. Heads and School Governors have delegated authority to manage and balance their budgets however, across Powys as at March 31, 2017 there were 34 schools with a cumulative deficit balance totalling £2.48m, this compares with 18 last year with deficits of £0.94m.

A report has recently been carried out by the Wales Audit Office into Education Finance in Powys. This has highlighted that the Council faces significant challenges to deliver an affordable and sustainable education service and halt the projected substantial decline in schools’ financial health.

Chair of the Audit Committee, Cllr John Morris, said: “We are in a situation where the way schools are funded presently shows an unsustainable financial cost to the Council’s budget. A joint working group will look at the present financial viability within schools and projections for the next three years.

“This is a very serious financial issue for the Authority which if not addressed has the potential to put both Schools and the Authority at severe financial risk. We are awaiting a policy direction from the new Portfolio holder and Cabinet on the future shape of our schools and education provision across Powys.”

The working group will firstly focus on Secondary Schools budgets as many are showing large and increasing deficits. The group will interview Officers, Portfolio holders and School Heads and Chairs of Governors to get a full picture of the reasons behind the present position.

Cllr Pete Roberts, Chair of the Scrutiny Committee covering education, said: “We need to understand how the curriculum is being delivered across our schools and see if our students are getting the breadth of subjects in the most financially efficient way. We will also need to explore how the staffing structures are set up in schools and how efficiently staff are being used in the classroom.”


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