COVID-19 challenges highlight Catholic Division Annual Report

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Continuing challenges caused by COVID-19 pandemic are the focus of the Prince Albert Catholic School Division’s Annual Report.

Education director Lored Trumier went over the report with trustees at their regular board meeting on Monday. Trumier said she’s happy with the work the division did during a challenging year.

“I think this is where I would like to congratulate my staff, our families and our students for doing such an exceptional job in probably one of the most difficult years since the last pandemic (year),” Trumier said.

“It was a very difficult year for everyone and our school community just really stepped up. I am so proud of the work that has occurred and so proud of our students. It is something that I hope they look back at and remember that they contributed to a very positive environment when the pandemic was occurring,” she added.

Trumier cited the Edsby learning management platform as one of the report’s highlights. The Division launched the platform in September 2020 to help students learn from home.

The Edsby gives users across the school division acces to a shared platform. It allows access to all students with Microsoft 365 Office apps and is available to all students for free download on devices while enrolled in the division.

The challenges of launching the platform, which is now in use in the Saskatachewan Rivers School Division and others across the province, was in learning how to use it.

“We did that under conditions that obviously nobody wanted and yet all of our students and staff had to use the learning management platform and become adept at that,” Trumier explained. “We also supported families that perhaps did not have technology in order to do that.

“Our staff really extended themselves to learning a new tool, expanding the use of that tool to endeavours that we would never have done in the past.”

Trumier expects the division to continue using the Edsby platform into the future.

“Obviously the world and the use of technology has expanded during the pandemic and we can continue to expand,” Trumier said. “We know that is a skill set for the 21st century.”

The board approved the Annual Report 2020-2021 as presented pending minor changes after review by the Ministry of Education.

Each year school divisions are required to submit annual reports to the Ministry of Education for tabling in the Saskatchewan Legislature.

The report presents an overview division’s activities and results for the fiscal year Sept. 1, 2020,to Aug. 31, 2021.

In addition to detailing the school division’s activities and performance, the report outlines how the division is implementing their strategic plan, provides a report from management endorsing the financial overview and audited financial statements and includes appendices for other information.

Contingency funding helps with challenges according to audited financial statements

Trustees also reviewed audited financial statements for the most recent fiscal year during Monday’s board meeting.

Audit Committee Chair Albert Provost presented the recommendations of the committee from their meeting held on Nov. 8 and Chief Financial Officer Greg McEwen did a general breakdown of the fiscal year ending Aug. 31 for trustees.

“I think again our team has done a really good job planning and budgeting for a year where we couldn’t anticipate what the costs would truly be,” Trumier said. “We did a really good job anticipating those needs.”

The trustees approved the Financial Statements pending minor changes made after Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Education format review and approval.

During the 2020-2021 school year, the division received $3,148,584 in contingency funding from the province to support additional costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds were for the 2020-2021 school year and preparations for the 2021-2022 school year.

“We also really relied on those contingency dollars to work through different elements of ensuring the layers of protection were there for our students and our staff,” Trumier said. “We couldn’t have done it without it.”

Total revenues increased from $33,478,132 to $36,027,422.

Revenue breakdowns show 82 per cent of revenues came from grants, 12 per cent came from property taxation and six per cent came from other forms of revenue such as school generated funds.

Total expenses increased from $33,085,989 in 2020 to $34,304,585 in 2021.

A breakdown of expenses shows 69 per cent went to instruction, 16 per cent went to plant, and transportation, governance and administration each made up six per cent and. Other expenses made up three per cent.

The operating surplus is $1,722,837 which is an increase from $392,143 in 2020.
The accumulated surplus at the end of the fiscal year is $36,179,654 which is a slight increase from $34,356,817 in 2020.

The accumulated surplus has developed over the life of the school division.

The Financial Statements are part of the 2020-2021 Annual Report.