THE SCHOOLS in debt are working with officers to try and rectify the situation.

Members of Powys County Council’s (PCC) Learning and Skills scrutiny committee were told on Monday afternoon, November 18, that all the schools were working with education and finance staff to provide plans about how the money will be paid back.

The committee, which is made up of councillors and school governors, was discussing the financial problems which have engulfed several schools across Powys.

The report said that schools in an unlicensed budget position have been issued warning notices and were required to submit recovery plans by September 10.

Further meetings will be taking place at the schools under the microscope to further discuss the situation, and where they are in terms of their debt recovery.

Interim head of education, Lynette Lovell, said: “All our schools are working with us to different degrees.

“There are some schools where we still have issues to resolve and work through.

“We have taken robust action, and we have visited governing bodies where they have been unwilling and have talked about our use of statutory powers.

Education portfolio holder, Cllr Phyl Davies (Conservative – Blaen Hafren), said: “The LEA (Local Education Authority) governors have been key in that.

“They understand they have to act.

“Governing bodies have given us kick back and LEA governors have been effective, doing their job by making sure the schools are working with us.”

Head of finance, Jane Thomas, said: “Just to add in terms of the warning notices that we issued, none have been withdrawn.

“We need to see plans in place to bring deficits down, and warning notices will not be withdrawn until we see delivery of those plans.

“It has to be very clear, a plan in place and it has to be about delivering it and moving the school out of an unlicensed budget position.”

The work on schools’ budgets is taking place alongside the education services’ work to submit a Post Inspection Action Plan (PIAP) at a meeting with Estyn later this month.

This is to address the recommendations that Estyn want PCC to answer following their critical report published in September.

In June this year, PCC’s cabinet, had to approve deficit budgets for nearly a third of all schools in Powys with 27 of the 93 schools unable to produce a balanced budget.

Recommendation Five of the Estyn report is about financial management and says that PCC needs to: “Continue to improve the financial management in schools and take appropriate action to address schools with significant deficit budget.”