Matthew Rabbitskin, Director of Finance
The 2015-2016 financial year marked the second year of implementing our current five-year funding agreement with Quebec and Canada, which expires at the end of the 2018-2019 financial year on June 30, 2019.
Every five years, the Cree School Board negotiates a new five-year funding regime with both Quebec and Canada. The Cree School Board is in the unique position of having the right to negotiate its funding parameters, or budgetary rules as they are known, as a result of the provisions of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA). Pursuant to Section 16.0.23 of the JBNQA, funding for the Cree School Board is to be provided in accordance with a formula to be determined by Quebec, Canada and the Crees.
The actual funding for the Cree School Board is provided by both the governments of Canada and Quebec. The Government of Canada provides 75% and Quebec provides 25% of the funding determined in accordance with the budgetary rules.
The current funding rules provide for a number of working groups to address issues that could not be finalized during the term of the negotiations, and which required collective review of needs and other requirements. The Finance Department continues to provide support to these working groups, which will address various issues, including remuneration, contracting requirements, information technology issues and capital funding related matters. The Cree School Board and the Ministry of Education of Quebec have enjoyed a long and positive working relationship, and we look forward to continuing these positive efforts to resolve these additional issues.
Ensuring a stable financial environment allows the board to develop and implement its long range Strategic Action Plans. These five-year plans generally follow the same cycle as our funding rules, as the plan requires the commitment of significant financial resources to realize the objectives determined by Council.
Over the past year, the department played a key role in supporting the development of the new Strategic Action Plan by identifying ways and means to implement new initiatives. These efforts were focused on prioritizing annual resources dedicated to implementing initiatives identified in the plan. Each budget cycle, we work with all budget supervisors and the management group to determine how resources are allocated, in order to best meet the objectives in the plan.
What has become known over the years as the Financial Reallocation Plan is the result of identifying how to reallocate resources in the Board to have the financial means to implement the strategic initiatives. We are proud that over the past several years, the Finance Department, together with all budget supervisors, has been successful in reallocating several million dollars to fund priorities and implement the Strategic Action Plan.
We also commenced a review of the methodologies to allocate funds throughout the Board and to all communities, to ensure equity and to improve our capacity optimize the education objectives established by the Council of Commissioners. This is an ongoing initiative and will result in a new budget process for the future, which will tie funding allocations to educational goals and objectives and other performance indicators identified by the Board.
The Department continues to look for ways to simplify our financial processes to ensure that the needs of all departments and all staff, as well as our suppliers, are addressed in the most efficient and effective way. We strive to improve support to the local schools and all service departments, to bring front line services into each of the schools and regional services.
Payroll Services continued its efforts to work with all communities, by providing training to various local support staff in the payroll functions, which have now been decentralized. Continuing efforts to improve payroll administration has been a key objective of the department for a number of years.
Over the past year, Payroll and Human Resources continued to work together to streamline processes to better address the overall needs of the two Departments. This includes the transfer of certain functions between the two departments to ensure better financial control, and to ensure that records management is in the hands of those best suited to oversee that function. Continued training of all staff was required throughout the year to implement new systems that continue to evolve for both the Cree School Board and, in fact, all school boards in the province of Quebec.
An important role of Financial Services is to monitor compliance with all policies and other legal requirements within which the Board must operate. The Director acts as the Compliance Monitor with respect to contracting and procurement, which ensures transparency and objective internal review of the awarding of contracts and compliance with reporting requirements. The Cree School Board has special rights and obligations with regard to contracting and operates in a very special milieu, which requires the implementation of special rules of procedure and compliance with various treaty obligations. We continue to work with other Cree entities and the Government of Quebec to adapt the regimes as required to meet the special needs and treaty rights of the board and the Crees in these matters.
The Department of Finance and Administrative Services will continue to develop innovative approaches to working with all users of CSB financial information, and will look closely at developing and implementing new tools for budget development and management of funds throughout the year.
The following sections of this report are devoted to summarizing our financial position for the year ending June 30, 2015, and to reviewing certain data on student enrolment and the financial allocation of resources within the Board in a very summarized and graphical form.
|Total Expenditures of the Board for the year ending June 30, 2015||$154,158,583|
|Deficit for the year ending June 30, 2015||($89,594)|
|Combined Accumulated Surplus at June 30, 2015||$26,348,816|
|Available Surplus at June 30, 2015||$16,982,581|
|Tangible Capital Assets at June 30, 2015||$167,684,814|
Cree School Board Operations