The future of secondary education in Whitby is not financially secure.
This is the warning from North Yorkshire County Council who say that both Esk- dale and Caedmon College are both schools that are “currently vulnerable”.
It goes some way to confirming that the movement behind the proposed merger is somewhat financial.
Figures set out in the lengthy consultation document show that Eskdale predicts it will be operating at a predicted deficit of £134,000 in 2016/17. For the same period Caedmon predicts a deficit of £180,000.
If no action is taken this is a combined loss of £314,000
This figure could be hit by a further shortfall of £70,000 as pupil numbers are expected to be lower than the current forecast.
For the period 2017/2018 there is a forecasted in-year deficit of £432,000 made up of £103,000 at Eskdale and £320,000 at Caedmon.
The county council’s report says Caedmon has balanced books which would counteract the deficit.
However, by the end of 2017/18 that would have been reduced from £680,000 to £179,000 whereas Eskdale’s deficits will erode any balance by next year anyway.
The report says: “This is not a sustainable position for either school. Necessary actions to address this would impact on front line teaching at both schools.”
Pupil numbers also drive school budgets and the report highlights that if Eskdale remained open, and as an 11-16 as planned “it’s numbers would grow as it retained some or all of its Y9 pupils and Caedmon’s numbers would correspondingly reduce, changing the balance of financial pressures between the two schools.”
As much as £1 million could switch between the two schools it is revealed.
The report adds: “Funding for all schools is uncertain and although the number of secondary pupils in the area is expected to increase in time, both schools are currently vulnerable. Amalgamation would increase financial resilience of provision in Whitby.”