Enrolment audit cuts $300k in New West adult ed funding

School district says it won't likely have major effect on the finances

The New Westminster School District lost just shy of $300,000 in provincial funding after an audit resulted in a reduction of nearly 65 eligible full-time equivalent (FTE) students.

Audits of the program, run at the district’s Pearson Adult Learning Centre at the New Westminster Secondary School campus, were conducted for all three 2018/19 semesters (fall, winter and summer). The audits found over-enrolment in all three semesters, a conclusion that was accepted by the district, according to a staff report from secretary-treasurer Kim Morris.

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During a ministry audit, conducted on March 11, 2019, 225 student files were reviewed among a headcount of 694 students as of Sept 28, 2018.

The initial enrolment totalled 218.125 FTEs, a number that was knocked down by 9.75 FTEs, cutting funding by about $45,000.

The school district then ran a voluntary review of its own enrolment for the semester starting in February, which dropped funding by another $105,000.

“This investigation yielded evidence of courses that were claimed in error, and eligible claims reported in February that did not meet the attendance requirement until after the February claim date,” Morris’s report reads.

Given the audit results, the changes to the February enrolment data and recommended changes in procedures from the auditors, the school district made alterations to its May enrolment data for the program, cutting another $149,000 in funding.

The auditors made 14 recommendations to the school district in its procedures and practices with respect to enrolment.

That included working with teachers and staff to ensure procedures align with ministry policies, only reporting funding for student claims that meet attendance requirements, always giving students and “I”/incomplete grade before a failing “F” and amending registration practices to ensure students are placed in appropriate classes.

According to Morris’s report, the district has already taken “significant steps toward implementing recommendations by auditors.”

District staff also recommended the district run mock audits in other areas, including regular school-aged enrolment, special education and Indigenous education.

Morris added that the school district anticipates little effect from the audit, with “underspent areas” of the 2018/19 budget able to make up for much of the lost funding.

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