Tuesday’s meeting of the School District 72 (SD72) board of trustees opened with a bit of grumbling and angry brow-bunching over the provincial government trying to ‘claw back’ unused portions of school district budgets.
That frustration was short-lived, however, as they followed it by rolling out one piece of good news after another.
The financial state of the district
Brad Piercy of MNP (SD72’s accountants) presented the audited financial statements for the fiscal year ending June 30 Tuesday night with nothing but glowing praise for the organization’s record keeping and fiscal responsibility.
According to Piercy, at the end of the fiscal year, SD72 had an operation surplus of $1.1 million, mainly due to reduced wages and reduced spending during the teacher’s strike in June.
The tangible capital assets of the school district are up $800,000 as of June 30, from $86.2 million to $87 million.
This is because $4.1 million of asset value was added over the course of the year, mainly through seismic work and transportation upgrades, and the amortization costs of those assets (similar to depreciation) was approximately $3.4 million.
Revenues were down significantly, as the government ‘clawed back’ a good chunk of change due to teachers not being paid, meaning that SD72 didn’t receive about $2 million of expected revenue, mainly due to grants that they had budgeted to receive but did not because of the teacher work stoppage.
In terms of expenses over the fiscal year, there was, according to Piercy, “a fair amount of underspending that happened,” in regards to “teacher instruction,” most of which had to do with the expected decrease in FTEs (Full-Time Enrolments) as well as not paying teachers at the end of the year during the work stoppage.
Expenses went from the budgeted $57.2 million to $55.2 million, which almost exactly offset the revenue issue from the lack of grants and the June claw-back from government.
Overall, the district has $14.2-million in cash, much of which is “sitting with the Ministry,” according to Piercy.
Kevin Patrick, secretary/treasurer of SD72, thanked everyone involved in the financial record keeping of the district, making his job much easier than it could have been during a very challenging year in the district in regards to finance.
The board congratulated Patrick on a job extremely well done, under very difficult circumstances, to keep the district in a strong financial state.
School start-up went smoothly
“Given that we had to do three weeks’ work in four or five days, I think it’s been remarkable on the part of everyone involved,” said Superintendent Tom Longridge in regards to school reopenings after the teacher’s work stoppage.
Longridge also commended the staff that worked through the summer to ensure that the reopening could happen as smoothly as it did. Patrick thanked the fact that pickets were not up over the summer, which put them in a better position for reopening than in other districts.
“I would say that shows the positive relationship between the CRDTA (Campbell River and District Teachers Association) and the district,” Longridge said, thanking the teachers for all their communication and understanding throughout the dispute.
“Although this was a protracted dispute, I believe that the relationship in the district is still a very positive one, even in difficult times,” Longridge said.
“I’m very proud of the teaching staff that have gone back. I’ve seen the positive attitude and the smiles on the kids’ faces and the teachers’ faces when we’ve gone through the hallways and seen classes in session.”