Toronto, December 6, 2017 – The Auditor General of Ontario, Bonnie Lysyk, released her 2017 Annual Report today which focused on a number of value-for-money audits across many sectors including: 'Ministry Funding and Oversight of School Boards' and 'School Boards' Management of Financial and Human Resources'.
The Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA) thanks the Auditor General for her report and recommendations with respect to the two education-related audits that address the financial stewardship and accountability of school boards.
Ontario school boards have effective systems, procedures and procurement processes in place to ensure their use of operating funding from the Ministry is transparent, compliant with legislation and government directives, and results in desired education outcomes for student achievement and well-being.
"Education funding is not discretionary. There is an incredible amount of regular statistical reporting required of school boards by the Ministry of Education to account for how funding is spent," said Laurie French, OPSBA President. "Those accountability processes are highly regulated and include an annual public budget process that requires a balanced budget to be passed." School boards face a number of growing financial pressures that affect how funding is spent, ranging from the impact of increased employee sick leave to inadequate special education funding that does not address the growing needs of students, forcing most school boards to use funds from other grants to fill critical gaps. In addition to those pressures is the increased restrictions on how funds are allocated that have a direct impact on a school board's local flexibility to use funds where it is needed most – supporting students.
"Contrary to the Auditor General's findings, school boards need more flexibility, not less," said Ms. French. "School boards know their local context, community needs and programs and they require the flexibility to make those spending decisions in the best interest of their students. How grants are allocated should be left up to the boards based on their local needs. Increased flexibility does not automatically equate with reduced accountability."
There is always more that can be done to ensure every dollar is allocated where it is most needed – to ensure successful student outcomes. Trustees and school boards across the province are committed to that end and look forward to reviewing the Auditor General's recommendations more closely.
The Ontario Public School Boards' Association represents public district school boards and public school authorities across Ontario, which together serve more than 1.2 million public elementary and secondary students. The Association advocates on behalf of the best interests and needs of the public school system in Ontario. OPSBA is seen as the credible voice of public education in Ontario and is routinely called on by the provincial government for input and advice on legislation and the impact of government policy directions.
For more information, please contact:
May Moore Director of Communications Ontario Public School Boards' Association firstname.lastname@example.org (416) 340-2540, ext. 111