Schools are told to give back ‘rainy day’ cash
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.”