Over the past few weeks, we have been busy setting our budget for 2023-24, desperately trying to get the books to balance. We are pleased to be able to say that we have managed to arrive at the mandatory balanced budget, one that projects an exact match of income and expenditure. We are not allowed to operate at a deficit or to plan to squirrel away money, other than for capital building and ground works.
This has been a particularly tough job this year. Our increase in Government funding does not remotely match the rate of inflation and at one point we were looking at a deficit of a quarter of a million pounds. Budgets are calculated on a national funding formula over which neither we nor the Transform Trust have any control. The calculation for Parkdale gives us one of the smallest budgets ‘per pupil’ in the country – in the lowest 10%. This is nothing new – it has been the case for the past ten years and our budget is always ‘tight’.
To get to a balanced budget, we have had to keep staffing at an absolute minimum and long-term this will begin to impact on the kind of extra support we can offer children. Classroom based support staff will be at a premium. Whilst we would love to recruit more, we cannot. To be clear though, at present we do not face staffing reductions.
To balance the books, we have also had to look at other cuts we can make. One of these is the withdrawal of the £20 per head trip subsidy we have introduced last year. We hope that if we control finances really strongly through the Autumn Term that we might be able to do as we did this year and re-introduce this in January.
We have had to slightly decrease budgets for resources and will have to do a bit more ‘making do’ with what we’ve got.
You might notice grand plans for lovely redevelopments of outdoor areas in features elsewhere on our website. These are funded through a separate pot of money, our capital, and have no impact on our year to year spending. This capital has to be spent on developmkent and maintenance projects.
Rest assured, with a great deal of care we will be able to operate at our current levels and you should see no deterioration on what is on offer at Parkdale, but it’s certaily getting more and more difficult to maintain!