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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 November, 2004, 20:34 GMT
Board resignation threats
All the education boards have revealed shortfalls
The prospect of widespread cutbacks in the Southern Education and Library Board has brought resignation threats from some members.

Special needs, school transport, school crossing patrols and canteens could all face cutbacks.

The board is predicting a 28m shortfall over the next three years, even though it does not yet know what its exact budget will be.

The board's financial staff has compiled a list of proposed cuts, including headquarter redundancies.

A wide range of cost cutting measures would affect pupils with special needs, including fewer classroom assistants and educational psychologists.

Five board members refused to even discuss the proposals and walked out of the meeting on Tuesday.

They included Sinn Fein and SDLP councillors.

DUP board member Jonathan Bell said he and other colleagues would rather resign than enforce the cutbacks.

He said he would not carry out measures which would adversely affect children's education.

The board is to tell the Department of Education that it cannot manage on its predicted budget.

'Highlight the prospect'

A board spokesman said: "Board officers have identified that there could be significant shortfalls in funding requirements for the SELB.

"Officers outlined to members how a total of 67m in the present financial year, which was not delegated to schools, was allocated.

"This funding includes costs arising out of special education provision, pupil transport, school meals, landlord maintenance, classroom assistants, teacher substitution, headquarters and school rates."

The Southern Board is now the third to highlight the prospect of budget shortfalls over the next three years.

The Western board said it would have to make cutbacks of 23m and the North Eastern said it would be 27m in the red if it does not make cutbacks.

The other two boards, the Belfast and the South Eastern, are currently the subject of a statutory enquiry into why they have overspent their budgets.

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