SCHOOLS in Gwynedd have been warned that they’re holding too much cash in reserve, with a report showing that some are banking as much as £270,000 “for a rainy day”.

In 2016, Education Secretary Kirsty Williams said she was “shocked” by how high some schools’ financial reserves were, holding back total reserves of £64m – the equivalent of £142 per pupil.

This is despite councils having the power to instruct school governors on how to spend any balances that exceed the £50,000 threshold for primary schools and £100,000 for secondary and special schools.

A report to be discussed by Gwynedd’s Schools Finance Forum on Monday shows that the county’s primary schools are holding back a total of £275,984 more than they should.

Secondary schools, meanwhile, are holding total balances of £439,756 over the threshold.

The council’s head of education, however, has blamed the increase on additional Welsh Government funding being released to schools late in the financial year, in order to reimburse them for maintenance work.

Generally, the total balances of all Gwynedd’s schools has increased by £1.1m during 2017/18 to £4,018,478, which is 5.49% of their total allocation.

As a result, the report recommends that both the education and finance departments should closely monitor and collaborate with schools who have a financial deficit “to ensure that they clear the deficit as soon as possible.”

The secondary schools with most cash in reserve as of March 2018 are Ysgol Brynrefail with £270,928, Ysgol y Moelwyn with £255,262 and Ysgol Glan Y Môr with £204,459.

In the primary sector, meanwhile, Ysgol Glancegin is holding £114,372 in reserve, £93,329 at Ysgol Maesincla and £85,755 at Ysgol Dolbadarn.

This is despite other schools in the county currently being in a budget deficit, with Ysgol y Berwyn (-£118,938) and Ysgol y Tywyn (-£49,034) deepest in the red.

In response, Garem Jackson, Gwynedd Council’s head of education, said: “A report regarding Schools Final Accounts for 2017/18 will be presented to the School’s Budget Forum.

“It recommends that the Council’s Education and Finance Departments continue to monitor individual school budgets and provide guidance to school governing bodies regarding the use of balances.

“However, it should be noted that an element of the increase seen in balances in 2017/18 was due to additional funding released to schools late in the financial year from the Welsh Government in order to reimburse for maintenance work.

“This made it very difficult for this additional funding to be used before the end of the financial year. In addition, in some instances schools have earmarked a portion of their balances to pay for specific projects in the current financial year.”