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Old 08-09-2020, 07:09 PM
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mrjones mrjones is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2020
Location: Massachusetts
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Thanks Snowmom and Blackcat for taking time and providing a different perspective.

I fully agree with sentiment of both of your posts. Apologies if I am miss representing but “times are tough for everyone and we should be doing everything we can to rally around small businesses and support our communities”. We agree, and are simply choosing to send our child to a different local school that we feel is better aligned with our values. It actually costs more.

I do however disagree with some of the comments around the equitable sharing of hardships both day-to-day and financially.

Perhaps if I provided some background for context. The school is run from the Directors home and is well established having been operated for close to two decades. The home is the principle primary residence and is worth ~$2m and was originally purchased for ~$450k. I estimate the net income of the business to have been ~$130k pa and the household income is 2-3x that amount (non education related).

My issue originates from March. Tuition fees were never mentioned in any corespondents, after a brief hiatus of a week or two, a daily 20 minute pre-recorded YouTube video was provided. This was not a substitute for ~18 hours of face-face learning and lagged the offering of peer schools in the region.

Parents were led to believe that we were “supporting” the school community. No other parents at the school to our knowledge are aware that the teaching assistants were let go without pay. Given all tuition and additional fees for after school programs were paid in full by every parent (Prior to COVID),, with minimal rent overheads and the main variable cost component of teaching staff quickly cut to zero, and auxiliary variable costs such as materials, cleaning and snacks cut to zero I would suggest that 2019/2020 academic year ended up in an additional profit of >$30k above budget. As I say, all other parents are of the believe that teaching staff were paid throughout this period after it was implied in correspondents.

Parents have been told that the school was not eligible for PPP and we needed “to rally around our small community” but basic forensics have shown that the school received a loan of ~$40k. To our knowledge no other parents are aware of this either. My assumption is that this will be paid to pay the teaching staff on the return in September through until December. I would assume the Director also pays themselves a salary and so that could be utilized to some degree to account for the 60%.

The message is that if you agree to send your child next year there will be no refunds under any scenario (3-6 month lock downs, further government support packages etc.). So her tuition fees/revenues become guaranteed at that point.

Due to regulations, the school does have to reduce numbers resulting in an $88k reduction in revenues but higher fees for the remaining students help offsets this.

My issue is that the lack of transparency and constant “we’re in this together” comments are misleading. The financial and service risks have instead been put on parents.

If I do some high level (and overly simplistic math):

Lost revenue = - $88k
Higher revenue/head in 20/21 = + $60k
Lower costs (Apr/May) = +$30k
PPP = + $40k (Assume will use 60% on “staff” somehow)
Withheld deposits = $8k.

Whilst there will be higher costs associated with operating on 20/21, she will be running for a day less and so cutting all variable costs (inc. staff) by 20%.

I’m the first to admit that this costing will be overly simplistic and naive but directionally, the schools cab flows look protected.

Additionally, IF/when another lockdown occurs then benefits accrue to the school.

As I say, we have no issue with supporting businesses and small schools; we will continue to support others. Our issue is the lack of transparency and equitable sharing of financial and day-to-day challenges.

My sympathies go to childcare facilities that really are struggling. My view is that this is not the exact situation here.

Hence my unwillingness to simply donate $1k.
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