From Iceland — School Funding Drama Prompts Hard Decisions In Reykjavik City Hall

School Funding Drama Prompts Hard Decisions In Reykjavik City Hall

Published September 2, 2019

Sam O'Donnell
Photo by
Natsha Nandabhiwat

School administrators and the budgetary authority at the City of Reykjavik disagree about how much funding is needed to run a primary school in the city, Vísir reports. Since there is very little wiggle room within the budget, it seems the best course of action is to close the Korpa school. The school would merge with Kelduskóli, according to a report by the Internal Audit of the City of Reykjavik (IE).

Only 67 children were enrolled at Korpa in 2017. “It is significantly inefficient to operate such a small workplace as it requires increased manpower and cost of housing operations,” says the Korpa School report. A comment from the School and Leisure Division (SFS) and the City Council states that this is already under review.

The city allocates approximately ISK 25 billion per year to primary school funding, running a total of 36 primary schools. This funding constitutes just over one fifth of the city’s total financial allocations. However, the report included only nine schools.

School administrators say that they generally feel that they have little involvement in the allocation of financial framework. “Some did, however, try to make their point of view known, but felt that it did not achieve much,” the report says.

IE provided a total of 24 tips to the school, but none of them demanded immediate solutions. The bottom line is that both school administrators and the SFS have a different understanding of what capital is needed to operate a primary school than the city’s budgetary authority. The SFS receives funds allocated from the city, which is then allocated to a school. The SFS has cut funding and as a result, many schools have repeatedly exceeded the budget. “In fact, the schools are generally faced with the fact that almost all business units receive too little funding,” the report says. Some schools repeatedly go beyond the budget, while others often leave a surplus.

The report mentions a “patched” and “obsolete” Excel worksheet that has been used for almost 20 years to allocate funds. “The conditions for compulsory schools vary in many ways, and it is hardly possible to determine a financial framework in an Excel document without taking into account specific circumstances,” the report says. Until now, only one employee has known how to work with the document, which could obviously cause problems if that person is sick or busy with other work. The report states that a working group has been appointed to look into the matter.

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