A PENARTH primary school head teacher has warned that schools across the town could be forced to make staff redundant due to budget cuts.
Steve Rees, head teacher of Evenlode Primary School, said the school is struggling to make ends meet and was facing a deficit of up to £150,000 in the next two to three years.
He said any redundancies would result in “standards falling” and that the financial forecast for the next two years was looking “grim”.
He said other schools across the Vale were looking at deficits of between £200,000 and £300,000 between the next two to three years.
The school has recently recruited parents to help with painting and clearing the school grounds as there was no money left in the maintenance budget for renovation work.
The school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) has also appealed for parents to donate old foreign currency so that it can be exchanged to raise money for the school in an innovative project.
Councillor Chris Elmore, cabinet member for the children’s services, said that the Vale Council had increased the total school’s budget for 2014/2015 and that funding was above the Welsh Government guideline for spending for the second consecutive year.
Evenlode head teacher Mr Rees said that although funding from the Vale Council had stayed the same, many other schools across the Vale were boosted by the Pupil Deprivation Grant while Evenlode, and other Penarth schools, missed out.
“Schools across the Vale are facing really big budget cuts,” he said.
“We could be facing a £150,000 deficit over the next two to three years, resulting in redundancies for staff.”
He praised the parents that had helped renovate the school after an appeal for volunteers was launched.
“We are very lucky as we rely on the support of parents,” he said.
“They got quite a lot of work done in just three days.”
Their work included clearing the school grounds and painting the pirate ship, climbing wall, and sheds.
He said that the school may have to make redundancies of Learning Support Assistants (LSA’s) as it continued to make losses.
“We had a £30,000 deficit this year. We are looking at possibly £60,000 next year, with possibly £150,000 after. Some other schools across the Vale are looking at £200,000 to £300,000 in the next two to three years, which will mean redundancies.”
He added that the school would not be making redundancies this year, but said “we will be looking at next year or the year after”.
“We think it’s going to get worse and it’s going to become a frequent thing,” he added.
He added that some schools may manage to break even, but that for the next two years the financial forecast was looking “grim”.
“My view is its going to result in standards falling,” he said.
“If you can’t support small groups of children with funding, all those kids are going to miss out.
“We don’t benefit from deprivation money.”
He added that the school was desperate for a new hall so that it could raise revenue and boost the school’s budget. The land was recently declared as surplus so that it could be sold off to fund the construction of a new school hall.
Cllr Chris Elmore, cabinet member for children’s services at the Vale Council, said that primary school funding in Penarth had increased and that the council had been notified of only one possibility of an LSA redundancy in the area.
“The total schools budget for 2014/15 has been increased,” he said.
“The Vale has funded education above the Welsh Government guideline for spending for the second consecutive year.
“The majority of funding for schools is distributed based on pupil numbers. In some schools there has been a reduction in pupil numbers. In such cases there has been a corresponding reduction in funding. However, pupil numbers at primary schools in Penarth have not fallen and these schools have in fact received increased funding this year.”
He added: “It is the responsibility of school governing bodies to allocate their budget effectively. As part of this process decisions on staffing changes are often made at this time of year. The Council has been notified of the possibility of one LSA redundancy in the Penarth area.”
Another Penarth primary school was due to meet with governors today to confirm a number of redundancies to meet the budget deficit of the next financial year.