Third quarter positives for PSSD

Nathan Liewicki
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Instruction, transportation expenditures higher than expected

The financial numbers revealed by Bernie Girardin at Tuesday’s Prairie South School Division (PSSD) board meeting did not lie.

Bernie Girardin, superintendent of business and operations with the Prairie South School Division, explains the Third Quarter Accountability Report he delivered at Tuesday's board meeting.

Girardin, the division’s superintendent of business and operations, presented the Third Quarter Accountability Report to board members.

Judging by the limited number of questions Girardin received from his fellow board members, it appeared as though the report made dollars and cents.

That is because there were no questions.

Despite the lack of engagement on the board’s behalf during the meeting, the report showed plenty of financial positives.

“The report we looked at (Tuesday) is quite in line with our expectations,” said board chair Shawn Davidson after the meeting. “Basically, it affirms that our budgeting process was accurate because our expenditures are on target with what we projected they were going to be.

“When we got our actual (numbers) for the third quarter, they came in very close or under, and we like it when they are under because that means our teams have done its prudence and spent less money than we allocated to do so.”

Ten of the 12 assumptions from the proposed 2013-14 budget still hold true, including the board’s decision earlier this school year to approve the final year of its renewal program – money used from the division’s cash surplus.

“Our estimated net cash for Aug. 31, 2014 is $12,251,784,” Girardin told PSSD board members.

Although the third quarter numbers are positive on an overall scale, there are a couple of expenditures PSSD has expended more than 100 per cent of its budgeted allotment on.

One of those is instruction, which sits at 104 per cent.

“Most of this is the result of teacher salaries that are paid over 10 months, as opposed to over 12 months,” said Girardin. “That will drive those numbers up.”

Another area – 10 per cent over budget – is transportation.

Given the unexpected rise of diesel prices last winter, Davidson noted the board did not expect the cost to fuel school buses to be so much. The other reason for the higher transportation expenditures have been repair costs.

“With these new buses, the emission control systems on the new engines are causing us a tremendous amount of grief,” Davidson told the Times-Herald. “They are really problematic.

“The environmental standards that have been imposed upon vehicle manufacturers are causing maintenance nightmares for everyone who operates those vehicles.”

Davidson added that PSSD is finding more troubles exist with the fleet’s newer buses, and it’s one of the reasons why the 2014-15 budget – approved by the board last month – budgeted an extra 3.4 per cent to cover rising transportation costs.

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

Organizations: PSSD board, Times-Herald

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