British Columbia

B.C. school districts need to disclose all executive expenses, says auditor general

Auditor found Greater Victoria School Board is doing a good job of managing executive expenses overall but needs to improve transparency.

SD61 only disclosed expenses where an employee could be seen to have received personal benefit

B.C. Auditor General Carol Bellringer says the examination of SD61 is the first of many audits of school districts. (Auditor General of British Columbia)

​B.C.'s auditor general is calling on school districts to ensure they disclose all executive expenses following an audit of the Greater Victoria school board.

The report on School District 61 is the first of many upcoming examinations of how well school districts are managing expenses and complying with provincial rules, said Auditor General Carol Bellringer.

The audit found the district is doing a good job of managing executive expenses overall, but it needs to improve transparency.

While the district's records were complete and accurate, with no inappropriate or non-business expenses, the school district only disclosed travel and accommodation expenses where an employee could be seen to have received personal benefit.

For example, if they attended a conference.

That interpretation of the provincial rules around disclosure mean that 60 per cent — or 145,000 dollars worth of expenses in a two year period — went undisclosed, the report found.

"Payments for executive expenses need to be transparent and disclosed consistently across all school districts around the province so that everyone is held equally accountable for how they are spending public funding," Bellringer said.

The auditor also found the district was putting itself at financial risk by paying the corporate credit card bills directly, rather than having employees pay the bill and receive reimbursement from the district.

The Greater Victoria School District says it will change its policies based on the findings of the report.

"Hopefully, it will bring consistency to school districts around the province," said district superintendent Piet Langstraat.

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