Schools saving cash for future projects

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SCHOOLS across the Daventry district could use surplus cash to fund their own lollipop ladies and school transport in future.

Latest figures released by the Department for Education show that 178 of the 323 schools in Northamptonshire were listed as having an “excessive” cash surplus in 2009 to 10.

Among them is Guilsborough School, which has £173,600 in unassigned money for the year 2009 to 2010, a total of 8.6 per cent of its overall budget.

Under powers rarely used by local authorities, Northamptonshire County Council could recall money if headteachers at secondary schools have saved more than five per cent of their budgets, or if more than eight per cent is saved at primary school level.

If the council did choose to claw back some money, it would be entitled to claim a total excess budget surplus of £15.8 million, which is down from £17.9 million in the year 2008 to 2009.

However, headteachers at schools in the district said they are saving the money for essential building work or school improvements.

The county council has said the money could also be used to fund services which look likely to be cut in the next financial year.

Antony Witheyman is headteacher of Weedon Bec Primary, which has an uncommitted revenue balance of £30,183 for the past year.

He said that money will be of great benefit to pupils as it will be used to improve the school’s IT department.

Mr Witheyman added: “We had an Ofsted inspection last term and they told us we needed to improve our ICT so the money will be used to buy new computers for the whole school, digital video cameras and to improve the IT infrastructure.

“Very few primary schools have any spare cash that is not committed somewhere.”

Other schools in the Daventry district with a surplus of money include Ashby Fields Primary School, which has £59,973 left over, and Braunston Primary School, which has a spare £40,598.

Cllr Andrew Grant, cabinet member for education at the county council, said any excess cash surplus could be used by schools to fund school transport or lollipop ladies, services that the county council will be stopping or reducing funding for in the coming months.

However Mr Grant added: “If there is anything untoward we will claw the money back.”