Reserves to cover school retrofit project

FORT FRANCES—A 10-year capital project in the Rainy River District School Board’s schools will be funded through a combination of provincial grants and a transfer from reserves, the board decided Tuesday night.
The board had agreed to the $2.6-million Energy Retrofit and Renewal Program in conjunction with Honeywell Inc. last month.
The project is meant to improve energy efficiency in schools, as well as to create spaces that are more conducive to learning for students.
Phase 2 of the province’s Good Places to Learn grant will cover $900,000 of the project. School Renewal funding from 2006/07 and 2007/08 will cover another $582,773.
The board decided last month to wait until the 2005/06 audited financial statements were released before deciding how to finance the final $1.1 million.
Superintendent of Business Laura Mills said capital financing was available at interest rates ranging from 4.58 percent for 10 years to 4.99 percent for two years.
Meanwhile, the board earned an average of two percent interest on its accounts in 2005/06.
As a result, trustees voted to fund the project from the working funds reserve.
Mills also presented the audited financial statements for the 2005/06 school year at Tuesday night’s monthly meeting here, which showed the board ended the school year on Aug. 31, 2006 with a $2,679,957 surplus.
“This number was actually a bit of a surprise to me,” Mills told the board.
When she and the financial team reviewed the numbers, they found several areas of note.
“We had increased enrolment through the year,” she noted, which resulted in an additional $800,000 in tuition fees and grants.
“We didn’t have to proportionally increase staff,” Mills added.
The local public board also received $1.3 million in special purpose targeted funding in 2005/06, which it had to spend in certain areas or be forced to return any unused portions to the province.
Another $700,000 was flowed to the board through other organizations, such as Northern Ontario Education Leaders (NOEL) and the Council of Ontario Directors of Education (CODE).
The board also did not see an increase in benefits it had budgeted for while administration found some route efficiencies in the transportation department, Mills noted.
The $2.6 million surplus was allocated to classroom reserve ($1.3 million), working funds ($1.2 million), and capital ($100,000).
The working funds reserve already contained $1.5 million as of Sept. 1, 2005, bringing the total to more than $2.7 million with the addition of the surplus—more than enough to cover the Honeywell project.
Finally, the board passed a motion Tuesday night to withdraw $58,000 from classroom reserve for student success projects in 2006/2007.
This was money that went unspent in 2005/06, Mills explained.