The Prairie South School Division’s (PSSD) Regular Board Meeting on January 9th, 2024, saw commentary from Board members on financial matters relating to outstanding provincial and federal funds. 

Ron Purdy, chief financial officer with PSSD, delivered the First Quarter Financial Accountability Report for Sept. 1 through Nov. 30, 2023, and said that overall, they were doing well and were within $100,000 of being at budget for expenses, but were behind on grants revenue. 

“Our PMR [Preventative Maintenance and Renewal] normally comes in the spring, and we haven’t received money yet for the construction of the new school in this year.” Purdy indicated that they’re expecting the $5 million for PMR to come later in the year.

“With our budget update that we received in December, we’re actually going to have about $975,000 more than budget on the grants line at the end of the year.” 

While the report indicates a $13.4 million surplus, Purdy clarified that this is due to revenue budgeted for the joint-use school on South Hill. When the joint-use school amount is removed, they have a budgeted operations deficit of $4,149,832, and a $2,990,337 projected deficit.  

During discussions, Trustee Crystal Froese asked about the delay in funding reimbursement for the construction of the joint use school.  

Purdy said that this year they were out $2.7 million in capital funds for the new school, having paid those construction bills while waiting on reimbursement from the province through SaskBuilds. Purdy added that they send bills to Holy Trinity Catholic School Division as soon as possible for their share of the costs to lessen the impact on PSSD cashflow. 

Purdy said that the first payment from the provincial government was supposed to be received from SaskBuilds after three months, and then drop down to two weeks for future invoices, but they were now over that three-month mark and funds were still outstanding.  

Trustee Lew Young expressed concern about the delay in payments from the provincial government. “That money has to come from somewhere, and that is coming from Prairie South reserves. It’s coming from our bank account.” 

“Hopefully, as you said, Ron, as the build continues, then they’ll catch up and they’ll do their due diligence to get the funds to us, so we don’t have to be subsidizing – paying - their bills for them.” 

Purdy said that the division is also supposed to be getting refunded carbon tax from the federal government, but they have not received the funds for three years, amounting to $975,000 at the close of the previous school year as of August 31st, 2023. 

Board trustee Patrick Boyle expressed his displeasure with the carbon tax rebate situation. “We’re just losing money in the education sector – we talk about teaching positions, educational assistance, classroom complexity – well it’s literally being robbed by the federal government here right now.” 

Froese questioned what the reimbursement process was for carbon tax and asked that there be follow-up to determine who to reach out to regarding the missing funds. Purdy said that there was an application form filled out the first year that they received carbon tax funds, and that funds received had been spent on LED lights, but no application had been received since that point.  

During the discussion, Purdy also clarified that funds received had to be spent on capital projects, developing buildings’ energy efficiency in the division.  

Trustee Robert Bachmann said that he was on the Sector Savings Advisory Committee, which sought to research and advise school divisions on spending the carbon tax rebates for energy efficiency, and that they were trying to get information from the federal government on the rebates. “All of us as divisions do have those dollars that we had been promised, but we have not seen yet.”