A Matter of Primary Importance: Making the Most of Audit Committees in Primary and Secondary Education Institutions

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The need for effective audit committees, with appropriate expertise in financial and accounting matters, has never been more pronounced in the primary and secondary education sector. Governments and school boards across Canada are responding to this need with new mandates.

Field work from PwC’s K-12 Consulting team observes that many school boards have yet to set up audit committees with independent advisors, even those in jurisdictions that have regulatory requirements to do so. Considering the financial expenditures and the intense public scrutiny placed on school boards, the status quo is not going to cut it anymore: they must act now to establish effective and transparent audit committees. School boards in provinces that are not currently mandated to have audit committees must also prepare themselves for this type of regulation.

This paper sets out a series of leading and emerging practices to assist school boards and other education institutions establish and implement effective audit committees. Read it to learn about the following emerging issues and standard practices your board should improve upon:

  • Setting up whistleblower hotlines is a growing trend that we encourage audit committees to jump on to help meet the growing need for transparency from external stakeholders.
  • Creating a conflict of interest policy is a leading practice among high-performing school boards for members of the board.
  • Managing risk is not a new concept however there is often insufficient collaboration, and little comprehensive reporting to help boards fully understand their risk exposure and the risk management processes in place.
  • Reviewing standard practices to see how they match up with those of high-performing education sector audit committees.

For more guidance on setting up an effective audit committee for your school board, download the PDF.