December 20, 2017
Time: 4:00 pm
Place: BCS/BCSF Conference Room
Karen Fagg, Chair
Mary Susan Fishbaugh
John Newbury: Foundation Representative
Shaun Harrington, BCS President
Jan Haider, Foundation President
Kaitlin Overton, Finance Officer
Danielle Watson, Education Director
Kathy Harris, Marketing Director
Shel Hanser, Principal BCCHS
Opening Prayer: Nathan Haney
Fortin Foundation: The Fortin Foundation donated an additional $250,000 to the capital campaign bringing their total contribution for St. Francis Catholic School to $1.25 million.
Mayfair: As you may have read in the paper, there are plans in the works to tear down the Radisson convention center, with a new convention center is to be built in its place. Mayfair has been assured by Radisson employees that these plans are in the preliminary stages and their corporate office has encouraged them to continue to book the venue. Mayfair is booked for the week of May 5th. The chairs have been working on the logo, save the date cards and sponsorships. They will not meet again until after the new year.
Fratt Building Update: Jessica Fehr and David Charles had a status conference with Judge Todd this morning. The result is that the cases will be stayed until March 5th and the parties are ordered to mediate the dispute before then, attempting to settle out of court. It appears that coming to a resolution now instead of possibly going through multiple courts would be in the best interests of all. If the case is not settled by March 5th, briefs need to be completed on pending motions which will be heard by the Court at 9:00am on Friday April 20. Pending are: The Capital Campaign attorneys’ motion to strike the answer and counterclaim Several motions filed late yesterday by David Cunningham’s attorneys (Mark Parker and David Dietrich) The mediation will probably be between January 22, 2018 and February 15, 2018.
Loan for Capital Campaign: The Fortin Foundation check for $250,000 will lower the debt to the Diocese to $4.75 million. The final bill from Langlas has not been received. The original debt with the Diocese was $5.85 million.
Annual Fund: The annual Fund is down and is $17,000 gross. The annual phone-a-thon will be held the end of January and hopefully the Foundation will receive the rest of the $38,000 that is budgeted.
Update: The Foundation will pay costs that have been incurred for upgrades to the Early Childhood Education Center of $134,000 out of the Dorothy Porter distribution. Since the distribution total is $150,000 there will be $16,000 left in the Dorothy Porter funds for immediate needs. The school Board has identified and prioritized $100,000 in capital projects at Central, so the BCS Foundation Board members are looking at an additional funding source to help meet these needs. Shel is getting additional quotes, which should be available in late January or February. The work will not be done until this summer. The BCCHS immediate projects are the removal of the VAT, replacing the gym floor, and repaving the parking lot. The installation of the elevator will affect the parking lot, so the lot may just be patched at this time.
Approval of Minutes: Mary Susan made a motion to approve the December 6, 2017 School Board minutes. Alex seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
Business Committee Report: The Business Committee met yesterday and discussed the executive meeting between the Foundation Board and the School Board.
Another discussion was the progress made by the Revenue Taskforce which meets every 2 weeks. The taskforce created a “cost to educate model”, a conservative budget for the 2018-2019 school year, and looked at costs based on enrollment projection. They are also trying to be conservative on the enrollment projection to make sure the budget is set correctly.
There may be a 3 to 4 percent increase in tuition, mostly in response to insurance costs. There was also a recommendation for a small increase to the registration fee. The biggest change the committee is considering is implementing is a technology fee per student to cover the iPad expense as well as technology infrastructure.
There was a large increase in employee benefits costs last year so Kaitlin will contact Payne West to see if a 6 percent increase is enough or if it will have to go up to 9 or 12 percent. The rest of the meeting was about tuition review cases.
Kathy disagreed with the Business Committee recommendations and wanted a discussion with the full Board about the technology fee. Even though Kathy attends the Business Committee meetings, she wanted to know why there needs to be a technology fee and an increased registration fee in the same timeframe. Kathy would rather have the increases included in tuition so that parents have one number for what their costs will be to attend our schools. The technology fee that is being discussed is $100 per student per year. This fee includes the iPad, software, and infrastructure expenses. The Business Committee will work on a detailed description of the fees. In Kathy’s opinion and experience, parents don’t like separate fees. She felt a huge step was taken last year with the new tuition structure and to add a fee is a step backward. The goal was to simplify the fee structure and now a fee is being added. Technology is part of education and is part of the cost of education and should be in the tuition. It is easier to tell people your tuition has increased by $100 because of the cost of technology than to tell them the tuition and then add a fee. Several years back BCS got rid of the small fundraising projects to simplify it with an annual fundraising fee. What tends to happen is that next year technology feels everyone needs a keyboard and now it is $150 and the next year $200. Then there is a meeting and the fee is rolled into tuition because BCS can’t have fees that are that high. Kathy said she has never understood raising the registration fee to pay for things that are part of the general budget. The registration fee is a “down payment” on saving the spot for the student. Kathy stated that everything she learned at the conference and from the parents she works with, is don’t add fees. People want one number and what aide they can get to assist with that number. Kathy feels that, if the technology fee is added, parents will say they do not want to pay the fee and that they will bring their own iPad. The parent will start to ask why there is not a textbook fee or a teacher fee. People in general do not like fees. Fees are a harder sell for recruiting and retention to go forward with that. Mary Susan was a parent in the BCS system and as a parent, she would like the breakout to know her child was getting an iPad that is kept up-to-date. Having a technology fee is the reality of today’s world. Registration fees help to pay for the registration software and pay for the people that register students. They are realistic fees and are part of the world we live in, particularly the technology fee. She feels that most people understand that. The registration fee is not refunded after a certain date because BCS bases hiring teachers on the number of registered students. If there is no penalty for registering, there could be an extra 100 students registered and the hiring is done based on those extra students. BCS has hired teachers and purchased iPads based on those numbers. If the students don’t show up, we could be severely over budget. The public doesn’t realize the consequences of having extra students registered and BCS hiring staff according to those numbers. The money BCS receives covers the operational budget and it is designated to certain areas. One proposed option with the technology fee is, if the parent pays $400 over 4 years, it pays for the iPad and the family may keep the iPad at the end of the 4 years. If the family does not want to keep the iPad, they can donate it back to the system and have a tax donation receipt. The iPads will be rolled into the ACE scholarships and ACE will be picking up a portion of the iPad fee for ACE scholars. If the iPad fee is rolled into tuition, the BCS employees that do not pay tuition would have to pay the fee. There are 2 negatives to rolling the iPad fee into tuition: The staff with enrolled students would be charged $100 for the iPad fee, which is based on total enrollment. If the fee is rolled into tuition and exclude the staff with enrolled students from paying the fee, other students would have to pay more than $100 because it is divided between fewer students. The technology fee is based on what BCS pays for iPads and technology related expenses. It will not become additional income for BCS. From a budget perspective, it works well to keep it separate from the tuition. Kathy questioned whether BCS really needs a 3 percent raise in tuition and a $100 technology fee. Catholic schools are unique in that every child has an iPad and they are renewed every 4 years. BCS is the only school in the area in which every student is provided an iPad. The Catholic school system’s dedication to integrating technology to prepare our students for their future is unprecedented in our area. The point was made that board sub-committees will review initiatives in-depth and provide recommendations to the full Board just like the financial report and the budget. It is not the Board’s plan to review and discuss every detail as that work in done in the sub-committee. Anyone can and is encouraged to attend the meetings. There is not going to be a recommendation today. However, based on what is known about the budget, enrollment projections and increases in expenses, the options would be to make cuts or increase enrollment. The Board agreed that it is important to determine how increases are presented to the public. The technology fee is very clear, but the registration fee should be more defined. The proposed increase in registration fees is $10 at the high school and $5 at St. Francis. As a parent, Alex would like to know the bottom line but have access to where the money is going. The breakdown gives transparency to the parents. She would like to know what the fees are being used for and how other expenses are covered. Kaitlin noted that parents can spread the fees across the school year which makes the technology fee $11 per month. The $100 will still be there it is just a matter of how it is presented. It was suggested that the technology fee could be added to the fundraising fee. The technology fee can be spread throughout the year regardless of how it is categorized. The committee wanted the Board to know the direction they are going. The possibility to spread out the fees needs to be communicated to the public. Kaitlin has spread the registration fee out into payments for families that feel uncomfortable paying it up front. Many board members feel the cost of education needs to include everything. BCS works on a very narrow budget and every dime goes back into the system. This needs to be communicated to the public. The technology fee does not cover the cost of the entire BCS technology system but helps defray the cost of the iPad, case, and the software that is loaded onto the iPad. There is no excess in the system. Leo reminded everyone the meetings are open to everyone if you would like more in-depth information. Let Kaitlin know what meetings you would like to attend, and you will be notified of meeting times. It is important to respect the recommendations of the sub-committees and make efficient use of volunteer time.
Next Meeting: The plan is to have another Business Committee meeting January 2nd. Shaun will do a doodle poll to determine the time. The Board meeting will be January 3rd at 4:00 pm to complete the registration package and get it out to the parents as soon as possible.
Marketing Enrollment Report:
Registration: Work has begun on the registration forms. The changes are sent to PowerSchool and then sent back to BCS and it is tested. The registration will go live the 27th of January for the currently enrolled families.
Discovery Night: Discovery night will be February 7th. It will be 4:00pm to 6:00pm at St. Francis Catholic School and 5:00pm to 7pm at the high school on the same night. In the past, BCS had a three-week registration period where Catholic families got precedence over non-Catholic families but that will not be done this year. A Catholic family will get precedence over non-Catholic, if there is a problem with space. There should not be a problem with classroom space this year.
Semester Student Transfer: There is a larger number of transferring students going to take place at the semester. The actual number is not known right now.
Annual Alumni Basketball Tournament. The tournament will be December 26 and 27. There are usually 8 to 12 teams. The tournament is not a fundraiser but used to strengthen relationships with alumni.
Catholic Schools Week: Catholic Schools Week is the last week in January and is part of the kick off for registration.
President’s Report: Unfortunately, Bob Cerkovnik will resign from the School Board because he is taking a job in Casper, Wyoming. Bob has been a great addition to the Board and will be missed.
SFI Lighting Project: Roger and Nancy Beeter contacted Shaun and wanted to replace all the lighting at SFI. Shaun put him in contact with an electrician that works with CTA through Northwest Energy and they planned the whole project. Shaun and the Beeters met with the electrician that will be doing the work and Greybar Electric on Tuesday and the project will take place in January. Shaun will be looking for people to volunteer to help but all electrical work will be done by certified electricians.
Policy on Service Animals in the schools: Shaun is wanting to develop a policy about service animals in the schools. BCS does not want to be faced with a situation where a school is asked to accommodate a service animal and do not have a policy in place. Shaun researched the ADA regulations, OPI, the state superintendent and will get legal advice before a policy is presented to the Board.
Updating of Strategic Plan Document: Shaun is working on updating the 13-14 Strategic Plan document to reflect the progress the schools have made since the last strategic plan was developed. Please remember the SWOT documents for the next strategic plan are due to Rita today!
Principal’s Meeting Topics:
18 – 19 School Calendar
Mayfair Special Project – K – 12 Language Arts Program
Enrollment Forms –
Strategic Plan Update – Return SWOT documents by 12/20 to Rita Turley
Service Animals in school
Diocesan Bankruptcy: Shaun disseminated a copy of the press release that the Diocese sent out today. Hopefully, this is posturing by the plaintiffs’ lawyers to gain as much as they can for their clients. In the other diocesan bankruptcies, the property assets were not included in the estate. Usually, the main interest is liquid assets and faster access to money than real property would involve.
The new St. Francis would not be included in the new filing because it is a Foundation asset NOT a diocesan asset. The property the St. Francis Catholic Schools is sitting on belongs to the Diocese. BCS may pursue ownership of the land after the bankruptcy is concluded. The land ownership cannot be changed now. Nate will continue to follow-up on the bankruptcy progression.
Next Meeting: The next Board meeting is scheduled for January 3, 2018. If there is no need to meet, the Board will be advised in advance.
Adjournment: The meeting adjourned at 5:30 pm.
Respectfully Submitted: Shaun Harrington, Billings Catholic Schools President