ALMOST a third of schools in Monmouthshire could be in deficit by the end of the school year, according to new figures.

A report presented to county councillors last week predicts up to 12 of 35 schools in to be in the red by the end of the 2016/17 school year.

These include two of Monmouthshire’s secondary schools – Abergavenny’s King Henry VIII and Chepstow School– that are projected to carry over deficits upwards of £110,000 and £167,975 respectively.

Another Chepstow school, the Mounton House special school, is expected to be carry over deficits of £154,854.

The council report reads: "Significant volatility is particularly evident at Comprehensive school level, with Caldicot and Monmouth making significant use of their reserves."

Despite having the highest project deficit in the county, the council say that Chepstow School has shown "good forecast progress" and could be on track to resolve their deficit position by end of 2017/18.

Long-term staff absences, re-hiring, additional supplies and services costs have been cited as common reasons for overspends at most schools.

While a school’s board of governors are responsible for managing its finances, the local authority are expected to monitor the overall financial performance of schools.

"The governing bodies need to provide the authority with a budget by May 31 and if this results in a school going into deficit the council would request a recovery plan," said a Monmouthshire County Council spokesman.

"The recovery plan states that school budgets must be in surplus within three years."

At the beginning of the school year, collective school balances amounted to £1,156,000.

The schools anticipated draw upon balances is expected to be £1,056,00 for 2016/17, leaving £76,000 as forecasted closing reserve balances - the lowest net level of school balances since 2011/12.

Labour county councillor Armand Watts carries particular concerns over Thornwell Juniors and Infants, which fall under his Bulwark ward.

The long-term absences of two staff members, high contract cleaning costs and additional support for additional learning needs (ALN) pupils could lead the school into £38,969 deficits.

"If you ask any major business looking to invest into Monmouthshire they will say innovation really starts with education," said Cllr Watts.

"With a third of schools in deficit it shows that we’re not investing enough money into them."