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Old 08-09-2020, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by mrjones View Post

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.
I also don't agree with an "equitable sharing of hardships" in any form. That was not the basis of my own points above.
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).

I'm sorry, but I fail to see how this is relevant in any way. If the director proved your home had equity or that you made money outside of your regular employment, would it prove she should charge you more? No.
But I applaud the director for being in business for 20 years. They must have a solid understanding of how to run a business effectively and draw interest to the need in their area.


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.
I am assuming you brought your dissatisfaction to their attention. If they were mandated to close, which I believe MA was, then I assume they stuck to their contract in regards to payment requirements. As most businesses do/did. Many also have clauses to cover emergency closures. So, you may want to refer to that as well if you are seeking reimbursement.

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.
I wouldn't assume to know another business' profit/loss. There are too many variables to be black/white. Unless you are a stakeholder or non-profit, this information shouldn't be assumed or available for public info.
Just to point out: many businesses purchase curriculum in bulk, supplies in bulk, yearly subscriptions, etc. These expenses didn't stop nor were they refunded March-June.
In regards to meals/snacks: they have likely always been partially paid by the food program, which is based on actual daily attendance.

I also assume the teachers were likely on unemployment. Possibly even making the $600/week federal bonus. It may have been better for the employees to let them do that. Their insurance may possibly have been retained/pd by the business account?


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%.
Many of us were initially told we weren't eligible by our banks. There were stipulations put forth that made it near impossible for small businesses to apply in the beginning. Luckily, the availability changed as time went on. However, I find it really odd that this makes a difference to you. If they acquired the funds legally, it really shouldn't be any of your business quite frankly. The business is responsible for the allocation of funds. The business is the one who is responsible for the payback- not the customers. The small influx of cash (PPP and SBA) will hopefully benefit the business in the long run to get through the lack of enrollment due to Covid in the upcoming year. It's going to take it's toll, whether you think it has or not.

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.
Smart!
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.
Smart!
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.
I disagree that it's been put upon the parents. You always have a choice. You chose to leave. Totally understandable. That works for you.
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.
What this boils down to:
If you really feel you're entitled to your deposit back, ask for it. If they say no, refer to your contract. The contract is what a court of law is going to care about. All those numbers you assumed above are not facts. Those numbers are what you assumed the business made during relief efforts. But they will have no bearing on what the contract you signed enforces.
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