Board Reviews Mid-year Financial Status

budget

Half-way through the fiscal year, the college’s original budget numbers aren’t quite on target, but the prediction and the reality may still have a chance to mesh during the final six months.

The mid-year financial update by Chief Financial Officer Marc Jones was provided to the school’s Board of Governors (BofG) during its October 26th meeting.

The college, like the provincial government, functions on a fiscal year beginning on April 1 and ending on March 31. So, this mid-year update reflected the college’s ledgers as of September 30.

As the overview in the graphic at the top of this story depicts, the college’s revenues are trending above last year’s actual intake, with $110 million already in-hand (compared to $91 million as of September of 2020).

Expenditures, however, are considerably higher: $112.5 million as of the end of last month, versus just $90.5 million at the same time a year ago.

That means that, half-way through the 2021-22 fiscal year, the college is currently in a deficit position of $2.1 million, compared to the $892,000 surplus it had developed as of September of 2020-21.

Despite a slight decline in international enrolment (and its associated tuition revenue) at the Windsor and Chatham campuses, that revenue source remains fairly solid thanks to our “sister school” relationship with Toronto’s Ace Acumen Academy.

Ace Acumen is a private-sector school, that provides secondary school education and English-language training to immigrants (chiefly from Asia). In the early 2010s, it began searching for a public college that it could partner with, in order to provide its students with some follow-up – and on-site – postsecondary education opportunities. After months of negotiation, in early 2014, it launched such a partnership with St. Clair. Initially, with abundant academic oversight and licensing its curriculum to the private school, St. Clair offered two Ontario college diploma programs at Acumen’s Toronto Campus: Business and Computer Systems Technician-Networking. The on-site offerings proved so popular among Acumen’s students that the program options expanded to include Data Analytics for Business, Office Administration–Health, International Business Management, International Business Management–Logistics, Human Resources Management, and Social Service Worker–Gerontology. Having added a second campus last year, over 3,000 students are now enrolled in the St. Clair offerings at Ace Acumen in Toronto and Mississauga – up 12 percent from the fall of last year.

So, while most revenue sources appear to have been fairly accurately budgeted for, the question for the remainder of the year is on the expenditure side. In terms of spending, Jones’ analysis for the BofG stated:

Total Salaries and Benefits are trending consistent with the original budget projection at 49 percent, and have increased over the 2020 comparative period by $5,551,776 or 13 percent. The increase is primarily due to the following:

• The prior year had lower part-time staffing requirements due to lower enrolment and COVID 19 cost-saving strategies;

• The current year reflects back-filled full-time staff positions, higher compensation, and increased part-time staffing.

Total Non-Salary expenditures are trending above the original budget projection at 42 percent, and have increased over the 2020 comparative period by $16,063,347 or 34 percent. The increase is due to the following:

• The prior year had a reduction in discretionary spending due to COVID-19 cost-saving strategies;

• Increase in Contracted Educational Services as a result of higher enrolment from students attending the Toronto Campuses, and flowing the applicable funds to Ace Acumen;

• Increase in Premise Rental due to 333 Riverside Drive (newly leased downtown space for Business classes) and accommodations for the international student arrival protocol (having to temporarily house international students in hotels upon their arrival as part of their COVID isolation and testing);

• Increase in Stipends and Allowances and Other Expenditures due to flowing funds to students registered in the accelerated Personal Support Worker programs (eventually recouped from special provincial grants).

In his report and in his verbal presentation to the BofG, however, Jones emphasized that many elements of both revenues and expenditures ebb and flow in a seasonal manner. That means that significantly more revenue is expected to come in during the latter half of the year (including another semester of tuition money), while many of the expenditures will naturally stabilize and/or be deliberately curtailed by administration-implemented constraints.

The original budget for 2021-22 had projected a year-end surplus (at the end of March) of $27.3 million, repeating the double-digit cash bonanzas enjoyed by the college during the past several years. Stay tuned during the coming months to see if that prediction plays out accurately.

MORE STORIES FROM THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS MEETING:

• Declining domestic enrolment worries, and pandemic-era communications efforts: https://news.stclair-src.org/need-know-news/concern-about-domestic-enrolment-outlined-bofg

• Contracting Training rebounds: https://news.stclair-src.org/need-know-news/contract-training-rebounds-pandemics-effects

• Annual Risk Management Report: https://news.stclair-src.org/need-know-news/risky-business-boards-agenda

• President’s Monthly Report: https://news.stclair-src.org/need-know-news/prez-reports-fire-building-vaccine-rate-etc