TWELVE schools in Monmouthshire will finish the 2017/18 financial year in deficit, despite an overall surplus in funds.

The same number had started the year in the red, with three schools coming out of deficit during the academic year and a different three declaring deficit budgets.

Councillors have been told that three of the authority’s four secondary schools – Caldicot, Monmouth and King Henry VIII in Abergavenny – are in deficit.

Raglan CIW Primary School is the only primary school to report deficits of more than £45,000, finishing the year £147,743 in the red.

Other schools that have reported deficits include Our Lady and St Michael’s RC Primary School, Magor CIW Primary, Undy Primary, Ysgol Gymraeg Y Ffin, Castle Park Primary School, Llandogo Primary School, Thornwell Primary School and Mounton House Special School.

Chepstow School’s return to financial health has been welcomed by the council, given that the school was mired in deficits close to £400,000 in 2016.

But the children and young people select committee heard on Thursday that redundancies made last year had played a part in the £158,000 surplus.

Nikki Wellington, the council’s finance manager, said: “I think we do need to congratulate [Chepstow School]. The scrutiny around the school has been very intense over the last few years.

“There were a number of redundancies within the school last year, and we all know that the highest costs for any school is staffing.”

A council spokesman confirmed that there were two voluntary redundancies at the school during the 2017/18 financial year.

The school made further savings on staffing by paying supply agencies to provide temporary teaching learning assistants to occupy vacant roles that have since been permanently filled.

Last September the committee were told that schools had a £428,000 collective deficit, a figure Labour councillor Tudor Thomas described as “a huge mountain to climb” at the time.

But the report shows that schools finished the year collectively £175,000 in surplus.

The council had expected £823,000 in collective deficit by year’s end, but a shared spend of £94,000 was reported.

Officers anticipate that a one-off grant of £344,000 from the Welsh Government also had a positive “knock-on effect” on school finances.

But the report warns that it was “unlikely” the collective level of reserves would sustain the yearly draw by schools on reserves in recent years.

The report adds: “[This] will add additional focus by schools to address the need to remain within budget going forward rather than passporting the consequences to their reserves, given that collective flexibility is now pretty much exhausted.”