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SECPSD budget: cash deficit is expected on operations side

The budget numbers for the South East Cornerstone Public School Division (SECPSD) look promising overall, but the operational and cash flow situations tell a different story.
South East Cornerstone head office
South East Cornerstone Public School Division building

SOUTHEAST SASK. — The overview budget numbers for the South East Cornerstone Public School Division (SECPSD) appear promising but when it comes to operations and actual cash situations, not so much.

Shelley Toth, the SECPSD’s chief financial officer and superintendent of division services, submitted the 2024-25 budget to the board of trustees for their approval on June 19 during their regular open meeting.

Total revenue is anticipated to be $126.3 million while operating expenditures should come in at $122.1 million she said.

Capital expenditures, including a $10 million assignment for a new school plan in Carlyle, are part of the process she added.

The majority of the expenses go toward teachers and administrative and other support staffers which amount to 1,105.83 full-time equivalent positions.

The Public Sector Accounting Board standards met with this budget, shows a surplus of $4,200,783 for the next school year that includes the $10 million grant for the new school with costs not expensed until the construction is complete and then amortized over a period of 50 years.

On the actual operations side though, Toth highlighted the expected cash deficit being $2,743,766 for the next school year signalling another year of diminishing surplus that is expected to leave the division with an accumulated surplus of $14.30 million, down substantially from the peak available surplus that was registered as $32.30 million in the 2016-17 school year. The surplus has been steadily declining annually since the 2018-19 academic year she noted.

During the budget review for the benefit of the board members, Toth pointed out that provincial grants still amount to the lion’s share of the income with $109.5 million or 87 per cent of the total revenue coming from that source since the government took over the collection of school taxes.

Besides the $10 million set aside for the new school in Carlyle, another $2.7 million in revenue is school generated while another one percent or $1.2 million arrives from tuition paid for students from outside the division’s boundaries. Another $2.8 million is derived from a variety of sources.

On the expense side of the ledger, Toth said $88.2 million, or 72 per cent, is spent on salaries and benefits, as expected with another $26.1 million devoted to the purchase of goods and services, making up about 21 per cent. Another $7.2 million is assigned to amortization requirements and just $500,000 is used to service debt.

Toth pointed out that Cornerstone has 506.10 full-time teaching positions to fill along with about 600 non-teaching positions.

On the teaching side of the equations, she noted there was an increase of 4.23 classroom teachers in the division’s system along with an increase of just under 15 (FTE) educational assistants.

Other notable capital purchases will include new school buses for $1.5 million and another $1.4 million for computer hardware and equipment for five schools that require refreshed network equipment and access point upgrades, Toth said.

Further on the capital expenditures side, Toth said the purchase of furniture and other equipment will come with a cost of $301,00 and another $110,000 will be spent on fleet vehicle replacements and another $30,000 for the completion of a relocatable classroom at Assiniboia Park elementary school in Weyburn.

The motion to accept the budget was passed unopposed.