Under the Education Act Regulation 612, School Boards in Ontario are required to establish a School Council for each school within the Board. These Councils provide input to the Principal or the Board on any matter. The Principal is ultimately responsible for activities related to the school and therefore is responsible for School Council activities. Many School Councils are active in fundraising activities in the name of the school and as such are required to conform to the appropriate sections of Regulation 612 to the Education Act that deal with fundraising issues.
- Ownership of School Council funds.
- Banking procedures.
- Financial reporting requirements.
- Record retention.
1. Ownership of School Council Funds
The Ministry of Education’s document, School Councils: A Guide for Members (2002), states “School Councils should be aware that, because the school board is a corporate entity and the school is not, any funds raised by the school council (and any assets purchased with those funds) belong, legally, to the board.” Fundraising for schools by School Councils is a collaboration between the school, the Board and the fundraising group. The full document can
be viewed at: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/general/elemsec/council
The Administrative Memorandum: Procedures for School Generated Funds addresses the recording and reporting of School Generated Funds. It is not intended to replace the decision making process that currently exists at the school regarding the generation and/or expenditure of funds. School Councils can continue to raise funds and make decisions about the use of funds in the same way as before. The Assistant Deputy Minister, Business and Finance Division from the Ministry of Education sent a memo to all School Boards in 2004 to clarify this issue. A copy of this memorandum is included at the end of this section.
All fundraising activities and expenditures must be conducted in accordance with Board policies, Ministry guidelines and municipal regulations. School Council activities must also align with the Annual School Fundraising Plan, prepared by the Principal. Particular attention needs to be paid to policies on procurement, conflicts of interest, fundraising and other similar policies. This is clearly stated in Regulation 612, section 22 to the Education Act. Information relating to the purpose of the fundraising activity and expenditures incurred from the proceeds should be clearly communicated to the parents.
2. Banking Procedures
School Councils should not have a separate bank account. All deposits and disbursements should flow through the school bank account. The School Council (or designate) may have the option of being a signing officer on the school bank account for expenditures that will be charged to School Council funds. Where this is the case, the second signature should be that of the Principal. Any expenditure of School Council monies, particularly fundraising proceeds, requires the approval of the School Council.
To facilitate the payment for ongoing activities such as the payments for pizza purchased for resale on a Pizza Day, the School Council may authorize activities for which funds can be disbursed and reported at the next council meeting. Other disbursements, particularly those where fundraising proceeds will be spent, would require School Council approval prior to the initiation of the purchase.
For the security of the funds and to protect anyone handling money raised through School Council activities, all money needs to be counted and kept in the school for prompt deposit to the school bank account. Requests for disbursements from School Council funds must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation and approved by the Principal.
Any purchases made with School Council funds must also follow the Board’s Procurement Policy and Policy Directive.
3. Financial Reporting Requirements
Information in the form of monthly summary reports outlining the sources and uses of the funds and the current financial position of the School Council should be provided by the school for fundraising activities.
The monthly summary report should be presented at the School Council meeting and the minutes should note that it was received and approved. The school should ensure this information is shared with School Council on a regular basis. The report must be in summary format and should not detail funds received by any members of the school community for privacy reasons.
Regulation 612, section 24, of the Education Act, states that “every School Council shall annually submit a written report on its activities to the School Principal of the school and to the Board.” It further states, “If the School Council engages in fundraising activities, the annual report shall include a report on those activities.” The School Council may wish to use the Detailed Transaction Summary Report to meet this reporting requirement.
In some schools, separate groups such as a parent teacher association administer fundraising activities. These groups, as subcommittees of the School Council, must follow the same processes prescribed for School Councils.
4. Record Retention
Regulation 612, section 16, of the Education Act, states that
“(1) A School Council shall keep minutes of its meetings and records of all of its financial transactions.”
“(2) The minutes and records shall be available at the school for examination without charge by any person.”
“(3) Subsections (1) and (2) do not apply to minutes and records that are more than four years old.”
As a matter of consistency with other financial record retention requirements, all records are to be maintained on Board premises for a period of seven years.
School Councils are reminded that Regulation 612 of the Education Act governs their activities, responsibilities and reporting requirements. Principals should monitor School Council activities to ensure compliance with the Regulation or Board policies and procedures.