Running in the red

Nathan Liewicki
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Prairie South School Division trustee Shawn Davidson speaks at Tuesday's Board of Education meeting.

Shawn Davidson had a simple explanation as to why Prairie South will be running a deficit in 2013-14: tangible capital assets.

“We've embarked on a three-year project to do some very significant facility renewals,” said the school board trustee. “We, as a board, made a decision that that surplus was excessive and that we have some very significant capital requirements for facility upgrades within our school division.”

The surplus Davidson referred to was $25, 526, 306 in net financial assets that PSSD sat on at the end of its 2011-12 fiscal year, which ended on Aug. 31.

Following the 2012-13 fiscal year that surplus shrunk to $21,675, 573, thanks in great part to a number of infrastructure projects Prairie South School Division (PSSD) carried out during the year.

At a cost of approximately $900,000, the second phase of a Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) upgrade at Assiniboia Elementary School was the most expensive capital project undertaken in 2012-13.

“We decided that an appropriate and very responsible way of managing our surplus would be to reinvest it into our facilities, which dearly needed the investment,” said Davidson.

That stash of surplus money will again be dug into during the 2013-14 fiscal year, as more upgrades are made at schools throughout the division.

According to Davidson, the provincial government only sets aside about $800,000 for PSSD to use for the upkeep of 40 schools in 19 communities. It’s a figure Davidson called “woefully inadequate.”

He admitted that surplus funds are likely to run out at some point in the future. Until then, however, PSSD will continue to embark on capital improvements to its schools.

Still, the decision to provide maintenance upgrades to schools in the division will result in an operating deficit this fiscal year. According to PSSD’s Approved 2013-14 Budget Summary of Revenues and Expense, that deficit is estimated to be $4,124,378.

Revenue dollars are expected to be down, and that number will most noticeably be seen in grant money – down more than $2 million.

As far as expenses go, instruction costs are expected to be down about $1.9 million, while administration expenses are expected to be up about $1.4 million.

Davidson explained why these two expenses will be so up and down this fiscal year when he referred to LEADS: the League of Educational Administrators, Directors and Superintendents.

“In the 2013 financial statements, LEADS contract salaries appear as part of the instructional expenses. In the 2013-14 financial statements, that will be moved to administration expenses.”

LEADS are some of the highest paid employees in PSSD.


Here is a list of the top-seven highest paid Prairie South School Division employees for the fiscal year running from Sept. 1, 2012 until August 31, 2013:

 Jeff Finell (Director of Education) – $178,082

Bernie Girardin (Superintendent of Business and Operations) – $154,246

Lori Meyer (Superintendent of Learning) – $153,133

Ryan Boughen (Superintendent of Human Resources) – $147,030

Barbara Compton (Superintendent of Operations) – $143,176

Derrick Huschi (Superintendent of Operations) – $139,321

Kim Novak (Superintendent of Operations) – $135, 521

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

Organizations: Prairie South School Division, Air Conditioning, Assiniboia Elementary School League of Educational Administrators

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