The Mandeville School has been ordered by County Hall to take urgent action to get a handle on its huge debts.
The school was £372,842 in debt at the end of the last financial year and was issued with a ‘notice of concern’ by Bucks County Council over the situation, the Bucks Herald can reveal.
As a result, there was the threat of the council removing the school’s control over its own budget.
The debt was flagged up at a meeting of the council’s schools forum in June because the Mandeville had spent ‘significantly’ more than the amount it was allowed to.
A ‘licensed deficit’ of £277,00 had been agreed by the council, but the school exceeded this by nearly £100,000. Its budget for 2012/13 was £4.7 million.
Senior members of staff at the school, headteacher Peter Patchett and Malcolm Webber, the school’s chair of governors, stepped down following the end of last term.
However, the council’s service director Chris Munday said these departures had nothing to do with concerns over the school’s finances.
Mr Patchett, who has now retired, said much of the unexpected costs in the past year were caused by running maintenance expenses on the old buildings that are being replaced. The school has recently embarked on a £5m development project.
He said: “We had to spend more money prior to the new build starting than expected.
“We had to invest in some remedial works so the school could carry on operating.”
In the past year there have been a number of problems with power supply at the Mandeville, including a three-day spell in February when the school had to be closed during exam season because of flooding.
Mr Munday said the school had been sent a notice of concern and told to come up with an action plan because it had broken council rules.
He said: “We will issue a warning to any school that does not comply with policy. There were concerns and they needed to be addressed.”
A notice of concern informs a school that one month from when the letter was sent the council intends to suspend the school’s right to a delegated budget.
However, this action was not taken because the school was able to come up with an action plan for tackling its debts.
Mr Munday says the council is satisfied that this action plan is ‘robust’.
She said she has full confidence that the financial problems will be sorted out in the coming years.
Mrs Wilson said: “As far as the school is concerned we have agreements in place for a financial recovery to take place in the next two to three years.
“We are going to batten down the hatches and imbed what we are doing without taking on any more initiatives that could make more debt.
“I am satisfied that arrangements are in place for us to move forward.
“The financial position is not a concern for me.”
SCHOOLS IN THE RED (Note: Mandeville School is the only school to be given a notice of concern by the council)
Bowerdean Nursery School
Millbrook Combined School
Bledlow Ridge School
Newtown Infant School and Nursery
Debt: £ 31,750
Iver Village Junior School
Prestwood Infant School
Chartridge Combined School
Robertswood Combined and Nursery
Wendover CE Junior School
Marsworth CE Infant School
Budget: £ 192,296
Frieth CE Combined School
The Misbourne School
The Mandeville School
Cressex Community School
Beaconsfield High School (Girls)
Budget: £ 4,667,387
The Cottesloe School
Pebble Brook School
Budget: £ 1,091,841
(Source: Buckinghamshire County Council)