A surplus of $7.7 million based on $92 to $94 million in business is what the South East Cornerstone Public School Division showed for its efforts in the 2010-11 fiscal year, according to a report issued by Shelley Toth, vice-president of finance and administration, last Thursday afternoon during the division's annual meeting.
But the business of running a school division is quite different from running a traditional service or retail outlet and that was pointed out to the trustees and a small contingent of interested citizens who attended the meeting that was held in the division's central office in Weyburn.
The surpluses are required to assure that capital projects that are already approved can move forward and be paid for in a timely fashion.
Provincial grants (43 per cent) and property taxation (51 per cent) are the two major sources of revenues for the division, said Toth. The total revenues were $900,000 lower than the expected budget amounts. Toth explained that capital grant revenue was $2 million under budget since the Weyburn Comprehensive School construction project was not as far along as originally anticipated while funds generated within the schools were $670,000 over the budgeted amount. Those funds represent the fundraising, student fees and sales activities within the schools themselves.
Other revenue came in $450,000 over budget and that consisted of reimbursement revenue for interest received plus gas lease royalties on land owned by the school division which had been budgeted conservatively, she said.
The bulk of the expenses are tied up in salaries and benefits, the financial report indicated, pointing out that over 71 per cent of expenditures in the past fiscal year were used for that purpose.
Total expenses were $1.6 million (1.7 per cent) lower than budget. Toth explained that salaries and benefits came in $2 million under budget since the contingency and sick leave budgets were not fully utilized and school generated funds were $614,000 over budget while other expenses were $326,000 over budget which included an unbudgeted loss on the disposal of tangible capital assets of $443,000 which was related to the decommissioning and dismantling of the Oxbow Elementary School.
Toth pointed out that tangible capital assets that included $7.9 million for buildings and work in progressincluding the last phase of the new Prairie Horizons School in Oxbow plus four roof replacements and the start of the Weyburn Comp project, were put aside. Another $814,000 was required for 10 new school buses while $1.7 million was spent on computer hardware and audio visual equipment, another $579,000 for furniture and equipment and $180,000 for one car and four trucks that are used for school division business.
Cornerstone employs 556 full-time equivalent teachers and 557 support staff which includes the director, superintendents, administration, information systems technicians, transportation personnel, bus drivers, facilities personnel and custodians, office staff, human resources staff, student services and family counsellors, speech language and occupational therapists, library and clerical workers, educational assistants and cafeteria employees.
Within the division there are over 8,150 students in 38 schools located in 27 communities. They are administered by six superintendents, six managers and six co-ordinators.
The Cornerstone division is comprised of a land base of about 31,000 square kilometres, roughly the size of Vancouver Island and is divided into three geographical regions.
The division was officially launched in 2006 with a government edict to amalgamate a number of smaller school divisions into larger regions.