Clean finances in Sask Rivers audited financial statements

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald The Saskatchewan Rivers School Division board of education met at the Education Centre in September

A Saskatchewan Rivers School Division financial audit shows an operating deficit of nearly $500,000 for 2021, a significant decrease compared more than $1 million surplus from the year before.

Chief Financial Officer Jerrold Pidborochynski updated the division’s financial standing at Monday’s regular board meeting with a presentation on the audited financial statement for the fiscal year ending Aug. 31.

The auditor for the division is MNP and the audit is sent to the Ministry of Education for final approval. Numbers are included as part of the division’s Annual Report.

Each year the Board contracts an external auditor to review the financial management and records of the division.

Director of education Robert Bratvold explained that the board received the information and confirms it before it is made part of the Annual Report which is submitted to the Ministry in the next week. The Ministry then reviews the audited report before it is released to the public in the Annual Report in December.

“If you were to look at the financial statements and not know the pandemic was going you might be a little bit puzzled, I guess, how could you not be aware of this level of revenue that was coming of these additional expenses,” Bratvold said.

In his report Pidborochynski said that when the audit is reviewed by the Ministry of Education he expects some minor adjustments but nothing major.

During the closed session of the meeting, representatives from the auditing firm of MNP as well as representatives from the Office of the Provincial Auditor reported on the annual audit.

Because of COVID-19 pandemic funding allocations the division received around $5 million in extra funding.

The audited statements saw an operating deficit of $497,779 for 2021, which was a significant decrease from the surplus of $1,066,986.

Piborochynski explained during his presentation that there were more variations up and down in numbers throughout the report than would normally be seen because of COVID-19 funding.

Bratvold said the audited financials are a reassuring item as they confirm something monitored all year round.

“It is just that external third party auditor perspective that all of the financial controls are in place and we have good processes to monitor and track and record our expenses carefully. It’s just a nice reassuring feeling when the auditor because they have very positive things to say about Jerrold and our team,” Bratvold said.

Both the local auditor and the provincial auditor indicated that the Saskatchewan Rivers financial house is in good order. There was strong evidence of effective and appropriate financial management and accounting and MNP issued a “clean audit” for the division.

Bratvold himself finds that the audited financials to be a beneficial exercise each year.

“I guess part of it is I know where the expenses are going and I know what these different lines mean,” he explained. “I find it really engaging. That’s going to sound strange to a lot of people, but I find it is really engaging when we are going through the complete audited financials.”

Another aspect Bratvold appreciates is the details in the accounts.

Both auditors commended Pidborochynski, and the financial team for their careful work over the year and supportive work with the auditors during the audit process.
Total revenues increased from $107,103,196 to $110,550,339. Total expenses increased from $1,06,986 in 2020 to $111,048,178 in 2021.

One aspect that did decrease because of the pandemic was school generated funds, which comes from things like school fundraisers.

The accumulated surplus at the end of the fiscal year is approximately $87 million which is a slight decrease from just over $88 million in 2020. The accumulated surplus has developed over the life of the school division.

The board is kept abreast of the situation with reports throughout the fiscal year.

“The board has a few questions here or there but the other thing is the board also monitors this on an ongoing basis. They get regular financial statements at the board table where they review them and ask questions,” Bratvold said.