Sask Rivers school board gets look at audited financial report

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald New board chair Darlene Rowden chaired her first meeting for the Saskatchewan Rivers board of education on Monday. Nov. 28.

A Saskatchewan Rivers School Division financial audit shows an operating deficit of more than $5 million for 2021, a significant increase compared more than $500,000 deficit 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 school division has roughly $78 million in reserves, and Education Director Robert Bratvold said that was enough to cover the operating deficit for the financial year. While concerned about the deficit, Bratvold said the division is in a positive position with their financial reporting.

“It’s a good piece and we are in a strong financial position despite the challenges we have in terms of funding and those sorts of things,” he said. “It is reassuring to kind of get that final picture of the fiscal reality.”

Bratvold added that the audited financials are a beneficial exercise each year.

“It’s a big deal for the system,” he explained. “The auditor had good things to say about the team that Jerrold leads and the work we do to insure it’s accurate and authentic and complete, so that was great.

This audit was for last year’s financial statements and is part of beginning the process for the next budget.

“Our fiscal year ends August 31 so they take a couple of months to finalize all of the accounts and once we know that we start into the budgeting process. We have already kind of started (budget plans) already but will start it in full force after Christmas.”

MNP performed the division’s audit. The results will be sent to the Ministry of Education for final approval before being released in December. 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.

Bratvold said there were some challenges for the team to work around this year.

“There are some new accounting regulations around some of the future liabilities but those are taken care of,” he explained.

In his report, Pidborochynski said he expects some minor adjustments when the Ministry reviews the audit, 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.

The audited statements saw an operating deficit of $5,434,607 for 2022, which was a significant increase from $584,334.

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.

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 decreased from $110,550,339 to $108,651,411. Total expenses increased from $111,048,178 in 2021 to $114,085,018 in 2022.

The accumulated surplus at the end of the fiscal year is approximately $78 million which is a slight decrease from just over $83 million in 2021. The accumulated surplus has developed over the life of the school division.