29/06/2004

Schools’ budgets must be managed more effectively

Education Minister, Barry Gardiner today voiced his concerns at the number of schools in Northern Ireland that are over and under spending budgets.

During a meeting with the Chief Executives of the five Education and Library Boards, the Minister made clear his determination to see improvements in how funding authorities manage and account for the resources allocated to the classroom.

Total figures for the end of the 2002/03 financial year, showed deficits of £11,260 million and surpluses of £31,027 million.

“We all have to live within the budgets set for us," the Minister said following today's meeting. "If schools run excessive deficits or surpluses, then it is the child who loses out, either now or in the future. It is not acceptable that our pupils should suffer in this way.

“I have made it abundantly clear that the Boards must use their powers to remedy the situation now and manage schools efficiently.”

The Minister has asked the Boards to put in place, by August, an emergency plan for every school which is running a deficit or surplus of more than 20%, to bring it back within 5% of its balance within three years.

He has also asked Boards to examine whether there are grounds for removing delegation from schools, which have persisted in over or under spending over a number of years.

Boards have agreed to put in place an additional action plan by December 2004.

(MB)

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