Audited Financial Statements

Key Financial Information 2019-2020

Variance Analysis of Spring Budget to Actual Expenditures 2020-2021

The following chart depicts the financial performance of Northern Lights Public Schools for the year ending August 31, 2021.

  2021 Actual 2021 Budget Variance Amount Variance %
Total Revenues $83,378,344 $82, 805,141 $573,203 1%
Expenses by Program        
Instruction - Pre K $699,241 $835,930 ($136,689) -16%
Instruction - K - 12 $60,018,066 $61,204,450 ($1,186,384) -2%
Operations and Maintenance $11,754,076 $10,989,866 $764,210 7%
Transportation $5,663,610 $5,796,305 ($132,695) -2%
System Administration $2,469,923 $2,952,104 ($482,181) -16%
External Services $601,297 $623,313 ($22,016) -4%
Total Expenses $81,206,213 $82,401,968 ($1,195,755) -1%

While variances represent a discrepancy from plans, they do not reflect a complete picture. A quick view of the revenue discrepancy would indicate that predictions for revenue generation were very accurate. Revenue on a line by line basis fluctuated greatly. The initial projections for enrollment, revenue and expenditures assumed that the effect of the pandemic would subside. Initial projections also included that enrollment would remain consistent. COVID resulted in a reduction of School Generated Funds (SGF) activities and revenues. The division was impacted by the decision made by Alberta Education to record the reduction to funding in the current year, while recognizing the revenue for COVID mitigation in the following year. This resulted in a significant change.

The budgeting process was impacted specifically in the area of Program Unit Funding (PUF). Due to COVID, a number of parents chose not to enrol their children in pre-K or kindergarten programs. This choice not to enrol children for additional supports at an early age may have a negative impact on their development as they progress through the school system.

The pandemic caused an increase in online and homeschooling educational opportunities for students from across the province. Even though Northern Lights started an online program to meet the needs of students, the division experienced an unexpected decline in enrollment. The division chose to not adjust the number of certificated teaching staff, as it would be difficult to adjust mid-year if students returned. The number of support staff directly related to individual student needs was adjusted. As experienced in divisions across the province, many of the activities for students and staff did not occur during the year (e.g. fundraising, field trips, professional development, extra-curricular activities, etc). This resulted in a reduction in spending in the instructional envelope overall.

Operations and maintenance had a challenging year. In addition to regular duties, they were tasked with additional sanitization needs as required by Alberta Health Services. Northern Lights also experienced changes in funding for Infrastructure Maintenance and Renewal (IMR) and Capital Maintenance and Renewal (CMR) due to the new funding framework. As per direction from Alberta Education, a significant portion of the current year IMR funds needed to be capitalized. The timing of the communication of this change did not allow sufficient time for adapting plans. As a result, overspending in this envelope was imminent.

Transportation operated within their projected budget. Cost savings were recognized in this
portfolio as a result of collapsing routes due to decreased enrollment. Issues with insurance premium increases for contracted bus operators posed difficulties. The division also experienced a deficiency of trained school bus drivers. Contracted Bus Operators (CBO) expressed concerns with continuing to provide service given the reduction to the already non-existent profitability for them.


System governance and administration adapted to the pandemic in 2020-21. Board meetings, professional development, and other division meetings were conducted virtually and travel was significantly limited for trustees and division office staff. Given the added responsibilities of the pandemic, the reduction of time spent travelling was diverted to managing COVID related issues. Due to the increased efforts in managing COVID and the additional stress and anxiety impacting students and staff, the growth and priorities of the division were impacted.

External services, consisting mostly of pre-school and out of school care, saw a significant
reduction to their operations. The division received additional grants to assist with providing these services during the pandemic. These programs operated within their established budgets even though they experienced a reduction in children participating due to parents keeping their children home during the pandemic.

Northern Lights, as many other school divisions, was not able to expend the budget as planned. We continued to assess and adapt to meet needs as they arose due to the evolution of the pandemic. Reserves for the division lie at the lower end of the recommended Alberta Education range for school divisions of similar size. The slight growth of reserves will be used as the division continues to deal with COVID-19 and the operational requirements of ensuring the safety of students and staff.