Melville and Applecross Senior High School heads defend cash reserves

TWO local high schools have defended cash reserves that place them in the top 10 highest bank balances among public schools.

Education Department figures show Melville Senior High School holding just over $3.6 million while Applecross Senior High School retains a balance of around $3.2 million.

The figures were released ahead of a new funding agreement taking effect next year that requires schools to spend at least 96 per cent of their annual budget in the year it is received.

Melville Senior High School principal Evan Floyd said reserve accounts were a vital element of the school’s financial management.

“At Melville SHS, this includes funds for infrastructure projects, the replacement of equipment and the replacement of resources.”

He also emphasised that a percentage of the school’s bank balance came from sources other than government funding.

“School accounts reflect money from a variety of sources, including school funds, parent money (held for excursions, trips and tours) and school-generated funds such as investments and alternative income,” he said.

Applecross Senior High School principal Paul Leech said the school had been undergoing a large redevelopment over the past few years.

“This has resulted in a delay to spending on a number of significant school-funded projects and resources, which the school community has been informed about,” he said.

“For instance, the school will be spending $400,000 from our building reserves on the construction of new shade and shelter projects in January.

“There will also be school funds spent on new seating, landscaping and a range of other resources and projects to coincide with the opening of the new refurbished school in February 2016.

Director General of the Department of Education Sharyn O’Neill said that principals had been working through an unprecedented period of reform but that their cautious approach to financial management was no longer necessary.

“Now, as we consolidate the reforms and they become the norm, for the first time I am asking principals to sign a funding agreement for 2016,” she said.

“I think all parents would expect schools to use their funding in a timely way to benefit their children while they are actually at school rather than putting aside large sums of money for some time in the future.”