2014-2015 deficit less than expected thanks to cost cutting efforts

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$341,000 deficit covered out of reserves

Palliser Regional Schools ended the 2014-2015 fiscal year in a stronger financial position than projected in its budget.

The board received the results of their annual independent audit at its regular meeting Nov. 25. The audit was conducted by KPMG LLP. The auditors stated “the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position” of the division at Aug. 31, 2015, in accordance with Canadian public sector accounting standards.

In Spring 2014, the division budgeted for a $1.5 million shortfall, to be covered from reserves. Thanks to higher than projected revenue and cost cutting measures in Central Office and schools, the shortfall was reduced to $341,000. This deficit was covered from operating reserves.

With that $341,000 draw down on reserves, the division’s has an unrestricted surplus of $351,000; operating reserves of nearly $4.2 million and capital reserves of $368,000. Palliser’s accumulated operating surplus stands at just shy of $9.1 million, down from $9.4 million on Aug. 31, 2014. The $9.1 million accumulated operating surplus includes $4.1 million, representing the value of the Central Office building and land in Lethbridge, school buses and other vehicles and equipment.

Board creates fiscal stability reserve

Of the $4.2 million operating reserves, the board set aside $3.3 million in a fiscal stability reserve to buffer the division from enrolment and funding fluctuations. That fiscal stability reserve represents about nine days of the cost of operating Palliser.

In 2014-2015, Palliser spent $914,000 of capital funding on provincially approved building projects. Major work included purchase, installation and servicing of two modular classrooms at Jennie Emery Elementary School, Coaldale, and architect fees related to design of the Noble Central School modernization project.

Administration expenses in 2014-2015 totalled $2.9 million or 3.59 per cent of the total budget, slightly under the allowable spending cap of 3.6 per cent.

Transportation Services had a small surplus of $40,000, thanks to revenues generated by external field trips.

Facilities Services oversaw and undertook $1.2 million in infrastructure maintenance renewal projects. Major projects included boiler replacement at Barons School and John Davidson School in Coaldale and roof replacement at Sunnyside School, just outside Lethbridge.

Schools reduced their board-allocated fund surpluses in 2014-2015 by about $294,000, primarily spent on literacy and technology resources for students. There remains about $770,000 in school surpluses. This is money the board allocated in previous years to schools from provincial funding.

Schools continue to hold $929,000 in school-generated funds, raised through fundraisers, fees, gifts or donations. That’s down from $1.1 million in August 2014. The Board continues to encourage schools to reduce school-generated surpluses and ensure that any fees or fundraisers are spent in the year they’re collected. Fees or fundraisers should have a clearly stated purpose and be spent accordingly.

79 per cent of revenue spent in classrooms

Instruction in Early Childhood Services and Grades 1-12 cost $64.1 million of $81 million in expenditures. That translates to 79 per cent of Palliser’s 2014-2015 budget going into classrooms.

Board Chair Colleen Deitz thanked Secretary-Treasurer Wayne Braun and his staff in Financial Services for their work with the auditors and throughout the year.

A copy of the audited financial statement is found on the Palliser website here.

For more highlights from the regular meeting  of the Board of Trustees, please click here.