The Northwest Catholic District School board ended the 2004-05 school year in a balanced position, and agreed to transfer $84,334 to the reserve for working fund.
The board reviewed its audited financial statements at its regular monthly meeting last Tuesday night (Jan. 17) with BDO Dunwoody chartered accountant Don Yurkiw.
Because school boards across Ontario now are being required to submit their financial statements in accordance with public sector accounting guidelines, the report differs somewhat from those of previous years.
One of those differences is that boards now must report revenue earned through school fundraising.
Because fundraising activities often are run by volunteers, it was difficult for the auditors to verify the completeness of records.
Yurkiw noted this is a common difficulty among boards across the province this year.
Chris Howarth, the board’s superintendent of business, said it was a “major achievement” simply to consolidate all the fundraising information from the board’s five schools.
Altogether, the board’s schools raised just over half-a-million dollars last year, he noted.
Yurkiw suggested the board take steps to ensure adequate documentation and controls are in place to obtain satisfactory audit verification.
“The potential for misappropriation with cash is very high. I do take it very seriously,” Howarth said.
“We’re not trying to question the integrity of volunteers,” he added, noting it simply is a question of responsible accounting.
Also last Tuesday night, trustees also heard a report on the French Immersion committee, which met in December and again on Jan. 16.
So far, the committee—made up of trustees, board staff, and parents—has examined the history of French Immersion at the local board and some changes in policy over the years.
In order to facilitate French Senior Kindergarten registration for parents, the committee has recommended the registration period be extended to last a week, rather than one or two days.
It also recommended someone be available to register new students throughout the day during the registration period, including during lunch hours when parents may be more likely to come.
“These are not necessarily big things,” admitted Fort Frances trustee Harold Huntley, but he said they can make a big difference to a parent interested in signing up their child to French Immersion.
“At the board level, we have to keep any negativity to a minimum with regards to the program,” Huntley added, noting the committee is optimistic the FI program can be a viable one.
Also at last week’s meeting, the board heard an update on the water system at Our Lady of the Way School in Stratton. An ultraviolet light system was installed in early December to purify the water, Howarth reported.
However, a micro-organism continues to exist in the water system despite flushing the system with heavy amounts of chlorine three times over the Christmas holidays.
Though UV light will kill the organism, Howarth said they have ordered a chemical to rid the water system of it entirely.
“It’s been a very frustrating month,” he admitted. “I’d like to say to you in February the kids will be drinking the water at that school, but I don’t want to give you any false hope.”
Finally, the board discussed the possibility of increasing the number of its committee of the whole meetings. Currently, all trustees and administrators meet face-to-face four times a year.
Several trustees recommended the board meet as a committee of the whole every two months at least.