Halfway through the April-to-March fiscal year – that is, as of the end of September – the college appears to be headed towards a year-end deficit ...
... But, fear not, that’s probably not going to be the case.
Changes to the “scheduling of revenue acquisition and expenditure outlays” implemented by the school’s Finance Department have somewhat skewed the ability to make reasonable comparisons between the past 2018-19 and current 2019-20 budgets.
Chief Financial Officer Marc Jones presented the mid-year financial update to the college’s Board of Governors (BofG) during its October 22nd meeting.
His report was prefaced with the reminder that there has been “a change in philosophy in determining revenues and related expenditures as of September 30 ... as requested last year by the Board of Governors. For example, tuition revenues will now be captured on the Financial Monitoring Reports as earned within the appropriate semester (Spring, Fall, Winter). This report, therefore, only captures the Spring 2019 semester and a portion of the Fall 2019 semester, (as) opposed to the entire year.”
That alteration, to an extent, explains why the bottom line currently shows the college in a $3.97 million deficit position – compared to last September 30th’s $8.72 million surplus.
The original, 2019-20 budget (approved last March) forecast this year’s total revenues at $188.2 million, and expenditures at $177.1 million, for a projected surplus on March 31, 2020 of $11.1 million.
While part of this year’s discrepancy is solely a matter of “timing” – which will be resolved as the year progresses – there are some other factors at play.
Included in those is the fact that some provincial grant-funding has declined under the Conservatives. The government also reduced tuition for domestic students by ten percent this year, and a number of international students (International Business) were granted free tuition for a couple of semesters to correct a bureaucratic snafu which had complicated their work-visa status.
On the expenditure side, while employee salaries and benefits are trending on-target (about half of the budgeted amount has been spent during the first half of the year), those costs are higher than last year due to hiring associated with enrolment increases.
Jones told the BofG that, despite the scenario portrayed in his six-month report, he still projects a surplus of approximately $11 million at the fiscal year-end in March.
St. Clair President Patti France updated the BofG on several topics during the meeting:
• An “out-of-the-blue” announcement was just made by the provincial government that, in effect, takes “training” out of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. The oversight, administration and funding of trade apprenticeships and the college-operated Employment Ontario offices is being shifted from that ministry to the Ministry of Labour.
There was no pre-consultation with colleges about that change; and, as yet, no explanation of what it may mean for the schools’ role in these domains, France said.
“It came as a complete surprise to every college in the province, and we are waiting for information about what will be involved in the transition,” she added.
• She has had a preliminary meeting with newly installed University of Windsor President Dr. Robert Gordon, and anticipates more get-togethers in the future to explore continued cooperation and partnerships with the school – especially in the form of additional articulation (credit transfer) agreements between the two institutions.
• The increased number of programs that now offer mid-year (January-start) intake, which have attracted substantial international enrolment, may necessitate a new Convocation session. Approximately 1,000 students will be finishing their studies this December, France noted. The college may arrange a small graduation ceremony for them, rather than making them wait until the regular Convocation sessions in June to receive their diplomas.
• France will be travelling to Berlin in early-November for a huge conference of international enrolment recruiters. For the first time, a college has been invited to make a presentation at that event – and St. Clair has been chosen for that honour. In a speech and video presentation, France will describe Windsor-Essex/Chatham-Kent, Ontario and Canada as educational destinations to hundreds of recruiters.
• The college recently hosted visits by ambassadors from Ecuador, Peru and Argentina. France said that may lead to new international enrolment from those South American nations.
See, also, the Board of Governors meeting story about the college’s handling of risk management issues, at: http://stclair-src.org/news/node/630
See, also, the Board of Governors meeting story about building projects on campus, at: http://stclair-src.org/news/node/629