ALIVE (Acme Linden Inspiring Visionary Education) raised an alarm bell after reading the Golden Hills School Division revenue and expenses breakdown from September 1 to November 30 of last year. It showed a $147,000 deficit for the program in the first three months of the school year. They wrote an open letter to chair of the School Divisions’ Board asking what is the “real cost of the Golden Hills International Student program?”
“This Golden Hills report is not consistent with the past message that this International Student program is a major cash generator for the school division,” said the letter signed by Dave Price on behalf of ALIVE. “These points are without touching on the non-financial but critical question of the extra workload for the teachers and fellow students where these students are in their classrooms.”
Ron Kenworthy says the numbers quoted in the report are correct, however, he says there is a note following the breakdown, which says the “statement includes revenue on a cash basic for all departments except for International Student Services and Federal Government where revenue is recognized based on invoiced amounts.”
“They are talking about actual dollar amounts as if everything that was due was paid today,” Kenworthy told The Mail after being alerted to the letter. “We don’t get everything all neat and tidy.”
This means while the expenses to run the program accumulate daily, the revenues come in at different times. This is explained further within the report.
“Although revenue is received in unequal amounts (most in September, January and June) expenses are distributed more evenly.”
It also states International Students Services has invoiced $4.2 million, however some students may not receive visas to enter Canada, thus the actual funds received will likely vary from the invoiced amount. The revenue reported in the quarterly report represents the visa approved students invoiced to date.
“You are always going to have variances in quarterly reports because income does not come in exactly when expenses occur,” said Kenworthy. “We’re not losing money on this program. At some point in the year it could show a loss, but by the end of the year you are okay.”
The ALIVE letter also raises the point that only $12,808 is directed to certified salaries and benefits to serve 179 students in the program. The letter concludes the cost represents 2/3 of one teacher for 179 students.
“How can less than one certified teacher cover 179 students in a variety of schools?
If we said 179 students would have closer to 10 certified teachers, then the additional cost would be over $210,000 for the first three months,” the letter states.
Kenworthy responds, “If we were teaching those students in a completely separate program you would need 10 teachers to handle it, but they are intermixed with other students in the classrooms.
He says integration is one of the strengths of the program.
“So that helps us pay for teachers for local kids too,” said Kenworthy.
This is not the first time ALIVE has been critical of the Golden Hills School Division. In February they issued a press release regarding the board’s process for allocating representation when amending the number of electoral wards.