April 28, Further Information Regarding Tuition And Fees
Dear ICS Community,
As we begin week four of the circuit breaker, God continues to remind me of the things for which I am grateful. I am grateful for this time of being still and listening to God rather than the usual hustle and bustle of everyday life. I am grateful for my wife Helen and that we are able to be together during this time. I am grateful for our school community and the stories of generosity to one another.
We are encouraged by the positive feedback we have received from the community regarding our decision to freeze tuition fees for the 2020-2021 school year. We appreciate your understanding of these exceptional times. The ICS administration has been working hard over these last three and a half months to ensure the health and safety of our community in light of these unprecedented circumstances, and I am grateful to each member of the leadership team for their work.
On April 2, Prime Minister Lee announced the original circuit breaker plans and the requirement to move all schools to home-based learning by April 8. When I taught at a university, I had to teach some of my courses online; I know firsthand that online learning is a very different experience than if our students were at the ICS campus every day. I would like to take time to address some of the questions our community has regarding tuition and fees in light of the government's requirement that we move to online learning.
For the 2018-2019 school year, ICS's expenses were summarized in the annual report per the below diagram:
As you can see, the majority of ICS's expenses are paid out as salary and benefits. Moving to online learning has required our teachers to make significant adjustments to continue to provide students with an excellent education. During this time of online learning, our ICS teachers are actually working longer hours and having to recreate many of the materials they would use if we were still on campus. We are grateful to our ICS teachers during this time for going above and beyond to ensure our students continue to have connections to the ICS community and provide engaging learning experiences to ensure students continue to move forward in their educational journeys.
Regarding the question of refunding facilities fees, unlike other full-service international schools in Singapore, ICS does not collect a facility/campus development fee, either upon enrollment or as an annual fee in addition to tuition fees. Therefore, half of our operating expenses, or 21% of our total expenses, are paid towards facilities. The vast majority of our facilities' expenses are fixed by contract, including rent, security, cleaning, aircon maintenance, lawn and pest control, phone, and internet. The only non-fixed costs are electricity, water, and general maintenance, which form a very small percentage of the overall facilities expenses.
Additionally, in comparison to other international schools in Singapore, one of the unique opportunities ICS provides families is financial aid. 9.7% of our revenue this school year was provided as financial aid to qualifying families. Should you have unforeseen financial needs due to Covid-19, please contact our Business Manager, Mrs. Sarah Majestic, to discuss how ICS can support your family during this time.
This year, ICS's projected net profit is 0.3%, or approximately S$35,000. As a registered charity, ICS is required to reinvest our profit into the school, so ICS will place these funds into reserves. These reserves are only used in exceptional circumstances and require board approval to be released. As noted in the ICS Board of Directors' email last week, the ICS Board is approving the release of reserves to cover increased expenses in light of our decision to not raise tuition for the 2020-2021 school year.
The ICS Board shared in their April 24 email that ICS is a registered charity in Singapore; this places ICS among a very short list of international schools in Singapore that maintain non-profit status. As a charity, ICS is excluded from the majority of the Singapore government's Covid-19 financial support packages offered to businesses. In order to provide an authentic American curriculum, the vast majority of our teachers, staff, and administrators are expatriate hires, meaning they are also exempted from the Singapore government's financial aid offered during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Given this information regarding salary and benefits, facilities expenses, the provision of financial aid, and ICS's status as a registered charity, ICS is unable to provide tuition refunds to families. The ICS leadership team remains committed to supporting families who are experiencing unexpected hardships during this time. Please do not hesitate to contact any member of the leadership team during this time to help us understand how we can better provide support for your family.
We are daily praying for God's continued protection over our beloved ICS community during this time. We would like to invite you and your family, including students, to set aside a few minutes on Sunday evening at 6 p.m. to gather together in your home for a time of prayer for ICS. My hope is that this can be a time when each household can look to God for guidance, hope, and strength as we face the days ahead.
Dr. J.P. Rader