Ministry of Education and Catholic Division auditor at odds over $800,000

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The Prince Albert Catholic School Division’s Chief Financial Officer Greg McEwen says a disagreement between the division’s auditor and the Ministry of Education over a financial statement won’t impact renovations to one of their Prince Albert schools.

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.

McEwen said the dispute is strictly about how to report the money. Regardless of what the ledgers say, he said, the Prince Albert Catholic School Division will still receive $2.1 million.

“The money is in our bank account. It showed up a week or two ago, so it’s not like there are any issues on that as far as the project goes,” McEwen said. “We’ve started planning for the project. We’ve selected a general contractor. We’re going through getting drawings done up so we’re proceeding with that project, which is pretty exciting for us.”

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 fiscal year ended August 31 of 2023 and we have to follow the accounting principles that the province or Ministry of Education dictates to us, so we recorded that $800,000 in our 22-23 financial statement,” McEwen said.

“The Ministry of Education said we should recognize it in our financial statements. When I say recognize it, I mean show it as a receivable and as revenue. MNP said, in their interpretation they thought it should not be in our financial statements (for this year).”

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

“So when you look at our audit report, the first kind of couple sections there, it talks about how our financial statements are all good except for that $800,000 that was recognized as a receivable and revenue, in their opinion,” McEwen said.

McEwen said the decision reflected a difference between the Ministry’s reporting practices and the auditor, and not a mistake by the division.

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.