Local details on P3 funding won’t be available until Monday
SYDNEY— Details about a shortfall in funding from the management company of public-private partnership (P3) schools in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board will have to wait until Monday.
Nova Scotia auditor general Jacques Lapointe issued a report Wednesday identifying what he called “significant weaknesses” in contract payments between the province, P3 managers and school boards, as well as contractual concerns involving some staff at some P3 schools over a lack of child abuse and criminal record checks, first-aid training and fire safety inspections.
Despite the fact the Cape Breton-Victoria regional board officially responded to the auditor general for the report, supterinten- dent Ed Davis could not answer any questions Thursday on the issues raised.
“I don’t know. I can’t respond to it,” Davis said, referring questions to other staff.
The Cape Breton-Victoria board has six P3 schools in its region.
The auditor general’s report says the Cape Breton-Victoria board failed to claim $403,000 from the P3 manager, an amount that was eventually collected. However, Lapointe added, the board incurred a $21,000 deficit as a result of the shortfall, which essentially doubled the deficit cost because the developer had been paid by the province, but school boards are required to pay for deficits out of existing program funds.
The auditor general recommended the board ensure it collects all money due under its con- tracts, and also suggested the board consider collecting interest on the unpaid amount. The board’s official response agreed with the recommendation and indicated senior staff would be asked to look at the issue of interest.
Davis couldn’t say whether staff ever considered seeking interest, and said finance director George Boudreau was unavailable this week, but would be back in the office Monday
Board chairman Lorne Green did not return phone calls Thursday.
Beth MacIsaac, the Cape Breton-Victoria board’s human resources director, said the auditor general’s concerns about some P3 schools lacking criminal record and child abuse registry checks, as well as a lack of fire safety and firstaid training, did not apply to the local board.
“The individuals who work in our schools are all school board employees so they come under our policies,” she said, adding that all employees have been subject to criminal record and child abuse registry checks.
The Strait Regional School Board, with seven P3 schools — five of which are in Cape Breton — under its jurisdiction, also came under the auditor general’s microscope.
The auditor general’s report says the Strait region failed to claim $864,000 under its P3 management subcontract, but supterintendent Jack Beaton said the amount was only $220,000, which has since been collected.
He also said all employees, including those at P3 schools, fall under the board’s policies for criminal record and child abuse registry checks.