Approval of Catholic Division Annual Report delayed by audit opinion

Herald file photo.

The Prince Albert Catholic School Division’s 2022-2023 Annual Report was not tabled in December after it was submitted because of a difference of audit opinion on the 2022-2023 financial statements.

The Ministry of Education wrote a letter to the division after the Annual Report was approved by the Board of Education explaining that the review and approval of the annual financial statement will not happen until later this month.

Director of education Lorel Trumier said that the delay had to be reported to the board at their regular meeting on Thursday, Jan. 4 but the division considers the matter just part of the process.

“We don’t see this as a negative,” she said. “Obviously, we did our best to ensure that everything was in place as the timelines were outlined by the Ministry of Education. We had met those timelines. This is just really a delay for some internal and further review the financials.”

The Annual Report for 2022-2023 cannot be finalized until the Provincial Comptroller’s Office and Ministry of Education approve the financial statements.

“The auditors and then the provincial Comptroller’s Office have to identify how to manage the dollars that were provided to us for the capital project, so we’re so happy about the project. This delay is not a bad news story,” Trumier said.

“It’s really just where the organizations and the professionals that maintain the procedures for accounting purposes have to interpret how they are going to do that this year,” she added.

The province allocated $2.1 million last June for renovations at St. John Community School. The Division received the first payment of $800,000 in early December, but recorded the funds as part of their 2022-23 budget year at the request of the province. However, auditors MNP disputed the report, telling the division those funds should be reported in the 2023-24 statement.

Regardless of what the ledgers say, he said, the Prince Albert Catholic School Division will still receive $2.1 million.

The division tapped MNP to audit their finances as part of creating an annual report. During the audit, MNP disputed where the money was being reported.

The version of the finances that was made part of the Annual Report includes a qualified audit opinion by MNP on the matter of the $800,000.

In December, CFO Greg McEwen told the Daily Herald that the decision reflected a difference between the Ministry’s reporting practices and the auditor, and not a mistake by the division and Trumier agrees.

“I don’t feel it is anything that we have done or not done,” she said. “It’s really just an interpretation section of the procedures and policies that they want to review and process always wins in these kinds of cases.”

After the audited finances were approved the division could approve and submit their 2022-2023 Annual Report to the province.

The division received approval for their renovation project in June. The province is covering the cost through the Minor Capital Renewal Program. All 27 school divisions were invited to submit two projects for possible approval.

The St. John Community School project includes renovations to the bathrooms, kitchen and library. Other interior upgrades include the replacement of boilers, rooftop units, windows, lighting, doors, flooring, wheelchair lift, furniture, equipment, relocatable classroom roofing and surveillance are also included in the project.

Exterior upgrades include building exterior and water drainage skylights and lighting.

The project is expected to be completed in March 2025.