Audited Financial Statements

Key Financial Information 2019-2020

Significant Changes over the Prior School Year

2019-20 was a tumultuous year. Initially, NLPS planned on continuing to draw down its operating reserves by $776,948 to meet operational needs. In the fall, with a late release of the insurance renewal combined with the late release of the provincial budget (and effects on funding of small class size initiative), the budget had to be significantly reworked. The fall budget update reflected an increase in the drawing of reserve use of $1,800,720, totalling $2,577,668.

Projected revenues for the Division were estimated at $84.8M in the spring and revised to $83M in the fall. Likewise, associated expenditures were originally estimated at $85.6M and remained unchanged on the whole for the fall budget update. Much of the change in revenue is attributed to actual enrolment reporting not achieving the targets as well as a reduction to the grant funding. The spring enrolment forecast is based on a mix of historical attrition modelling weighed alongside physical student counts and fall registration plans of parents in the spring.

While the expenditures remained unchanged from the spring to the fall budget on the whole, there were some swings on a program by program basis. Instruction spending decreased by $400k and PO&M increased by the same amount. Although enrolment decreased by approximately 80 students from projections, transportation costs increased. This was largely due to implementation of the MELT program. Across the board, there were reductions to staffing outside of the classroom.

The 300% increase in insurance rates meant that NLPS served notice to ASBIE in order to allow the Board to source brokers that would potentially result in lower costs. For an organization with an annual spend of over $80M, and several buildings and a fleet, this was a time-consuming and somewhat taxing endeavour. The ties with ASBIE were strong and it served school boards well over the past 20 years and departing from it would be difficult.

Shortly afterwards, the new funding model, that would impact school divisions in 2020-21, was released. It included many changes from the previous model, and NLPS then embarked upon an analysis of this new system in order to better understand how to shift the Division. Previously, NLPS was a site-based system. For 2020-21, with insufficient time to engage with school leaders in our system, a centralized staffing model was implemented. This rework of the internal budget model began in March.

Then, at the same time, measures for the pandemic began and school board operations were in upheaval, and the 2019-20 budget was an ongoing source of endless conversation. With direction to release support staff, and adjust service contracts with our contracted bus operators, NLPS began re-analyzing the current year’s financial position. The direction to release school support staff (primarily educational assistants) was conveyed days after NLPS had just determined how the educational services would be delivered. Rather than rework the educational plan, as this was viewed as our primary objective, consideration of reserve use was contemplated. Projected year-end balances were reviewed yet again to determine if, with all the service reductions and claw backs, there would be enough funds to retain the educational assistants. It was determined that this was possible, while still remaining within the total reserve expectations of the approved fall budget update.

In summation, it was a year of upheaval that included enrolment and grant funding reductions, large unprecedented insurance increases, school closures during the pandemic, followed by grant claw backs and further staff layoffs. These tumultuous swings, while straining on the organization, actually resulted in a reduction of planned reserve use. The actual deficit came in at $1,434,088, leaving NLPS in a better financial position than assumed at the fall budget update, but still twice what was expected during preparation of the spring budget. This will allow the Board to slow the future cuts that will be required to address the new funding framework for the upcoming years.