The Commission scolaire de Montreal, the largest French-language school board in the city, says there's nothing out of the ordinary about a get-together last week that reportedly cost taxpayers nearly $50,000.

CSDM spokesman Alain Perron confirmed Monday that the back-to-school get-together at Marche Bonsecours entertained about 600 CSDM staffers.

"It's something we do every year," he said, though he refused to confirm reports that revelers were treated to food, wine, circus performers and even a shuttle service.

Media reports say the bill totaled $49,416, including nearly $20,000 for refreshments and $12,000 for sound, lighting and other technical expenses.

Public purse gets a workout

The school-board event is just the latest controversy this month involving public funds.

Hydro-Quebec is reviewing its donation rules after two schools connected to the utility's CEO refused sizable endowments.

Hydro-Quebec CEO Thierry Vandal attended College Notre-Dame and College Jean-de-Brebeuf, both of which were in line to receive more than $200,000 each from the utility over the next several years.

The schools returned initial installments after media reports sparked a firestorm over a potential conflict of interest.

The Charest government found itself backing Vandal amid calls from the opposition for him to resign.