Schools are told to give back ‘rainy day’ cash

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Roundabout - by Paul Fran­cis

SCHOOLS across the county have been told they must hand over nearly £1.5 mil­lion they are hold­ing in re­serves to the county coun­cil.

Ed­u­ca­tion chiefs have or­dered 15 schools to re­lin­quish the money af­ter de­cid­ing the amounts be­ing held back as “rainy day” money were ex­ces­sive.

In the case of Brad­bourne School in Sevenoaks the sum is £500,000.

St Peter’s Pri­mary School in Folke­stone has been told to hand over £80,000.

The move will prompt com­plaints from some schools that they are pay­ing the penalty for build­ing up funds through good man­age­ment and sev­eral have al­ready un­suc­cess­fully ap­pealed.

The £1.47 mil­lion will be shared among other schools and be used to meet the costs of higher fuel and en­ergy bills.

Kent County Coun­cil acted af­ter it emerged that its 594 schools were to­gether hold­ing close to £80 mil­lion in re­serves.

Fig­ures seen by the KM Group re­veal three secondary schools are hold­ing more than £1 mil­lion in re­serves, while one pri­mary school has nearly £500,000 held back for con­tin­gen­cies.

In th­ese cases, much of the money has been ear­marked for spending schemes but a fur­ther nine sec­on­daries have more than £200,000 each, which has not been ear­marked for any ini­tia­tive.

KCC told schools to jus­tify why they were hold­ing the money or it would claw some of it back.

Cllr Mark Dance (Con), KCC’s cab­i­net mem­ber for ed­u­ca­tion re­sources, said: “In 2007 we were asked by the Gov­ern­ment to re­duce re­serves and so we have con­tacted 41 schools with the high­est re­serves.

“In 15 cases we have de­cided the lev­els were ex­ces­sive and de­cided to re­cover £1.47 mil­lion. This money will be put back into school bud­gets and re-dis­trib­uted in con­sul­ta­tion with the Schools’ Fund­ing Fo­rum.”

He added: “It is good prac­tice for schools to have a sen­si­ble level of con­tin­gency but the av­er­age fig­ure for Kent is quite high. We would en­cour­age schools to sup­port ed­u­ca­tion now.”

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