January 3, 2018

  • 1January 3, 4:00 pm

    Time: 4:00 pm
    Place: BCS/BCSF Conference Room

    Present: Bucky Heringer, Vice Chair
    Ken Frazier, Past Chair
    Fr. Steve Zabrocki, Parish Representative
    Leo O’Brien
    Ashley Harada
    Ryan Huppert
    Brian McGovern
    Brittney Souza
    A.J. Miller
    Alex McCready
    Stella Ziegler
    John Newbury, Foundation Representative
    Shaun Harrington, BCS President
    Superintendent Timothy Uhl
    Jan Haider, Foundation President
    Kaitlin Overton, Finance Officer
    Danielle Watson, Education Director
    Deb Hayes, Principal SFCS
    Shel Hanser, Principal BCCHS

    Opening Prayer: Bucky

    Approval of Minutes: The Board was informed that changes were made to the Foundation portion of the December 20, 2017 minutes. Stella made a motion to approve the minutes with changes. John seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.

    Foundation Update: Bequest: BCS Foundation received a very special bequest from Irene and Dick Seavy which is intended to help build the new St. Francis School. A couple of years ago, Irene established a legacy gift, that would pay her interest income until she passed. This gift of $752,975.75 was held outside the “probate-able” estate. According to the executor of her estate, after they have worked through the “probate process”, there may be additional funds available. The money has been sent to the Diocese and now the Foundation owes $4,050,000.

    Irene was a teacher for 43 years in Alaska, and “loved teaching her kids”. According to the bank employee who helped her set up this account, she wanted to do something to help “further education.” This amazing gift will make a difference in BCS student’s lives for years to come. BCS and the BCS Foundation are eternally grateful to have been named the recipients of this incredible gift.

    Year-End Appeal: Year-end appeal seems to have gone well, but Jan won’t have figures for a couple of weeks.

    St. Francis Statue: The Foundation has a donor who would like to purchase a St. Francis of Assisi Statue, for the new school. Options for the statue are being reviewed. The donor’s daughter passed away a year ago and they moved here to help raise their grandchild. The statue will be in memory of their daughter. The donation is anonymous but may be done in memory of their daughter.

    Annual Fund: Annual fund is still down. The Foundations’ development committee will be meeting in a couple of weeks to discuss strategies for improvement. The phone-a-thon is scheduled for the last week in January.

    Mayfair: Plans for Mayfair are well underway. Save the date cards will be mailed very soon, and the committee will start securing sponsors and items to sell. The Mayfair auction will be at the Radisson as a stand-alone event and the fair will be held at St. Francis Catholic School on a different date.

    Donations: A project update was sent to the ALSAM Foundation along with a request for a second gift.

    Tuition/Revenue Taskforce:
    Tuition Changes: The taskforce met yesterday to finalize the tuition schedule. The taskforce discussed creating an overview for the staff, so they know what to tell parents about the tuition changes. The overview was done in a format that could be used as a handout for parents. There was no increase to the registration or fundraising fees to prevent having too many changes when the technology fee is being added.

    The recommendation from the Tuition Taskforce and the Business Committee is a new $100 per student Technology fee. The fee will be set for the life of the lease which is for the next 3 years. The purpose of the fee is to cover the cost of the technology infrastructure, iPad hardware and the educational software needed for instruction.

    The other increase was to tuition. The Business Committee and Taskforce approved a 4 percent increase for tuition but only 3 percent increase is needed. The updated tuition schedule shows a 3 percent increase

    The tuition schedule was created by developing a conservative budget, which ended up being $6.6 million. The 17-18 year is $6.4 million. Most of that increase is for staff including raises and mounting insurance costs. The tuition would be:
    • K-5th $5,255
    • 6th-8th $5,675
    • 9th-12th 8,400
    Families with 3 or more children or with an adjusted gross income less that $115,000 may apply for BCS scholarships that range from $500-$5,000. For the 2017-2918 school year, BCS received 132 ACE scholarships that were distributed to families.

    The taskforce focused on helping middle income families. Starting this year, families in the lower income brackets will have to apply for all scholarships available to them. In the past, some families have been just applying for the BCS scholarship and not the others that are available. If the families apply for all the aide available to them, BCS can be more help the middle-income families. Based on enrollment, it appears that it is more of a hardship for the middle-income families to attend BCS than the high or low-income families.

    Pre-K is separate from the schools and is not included in the tuition calculation.

    There is a $2.2 million in income other than tuition and registration. That income is from the Foundation, parish subsidies, ACE Scholarships and marketing.

    It was suggested that a, “Tuition Freedom Day”, be set aside for all students in the schools to write a thank you to the parishes, donors, and the Foundation. The day could be set on the day the tuition funding is gone and the donations finish paying for the rest of the year.

    There was a loss of 7 Ace scholarships this year. BCS hired staff whose family was getting ACE scholarships and those scholarships cannot be redistributed for a year. How many scholarships BCS receives depends on the ACE budget. There were 8 more ACE scholarships that the students left BCS and the scholarships follow them.

    There were about 5 students that did not receive ACE scholarships that requested them. Those students were still able to attend school with other assistance. The Foundation gave out 78 scholarships. Every student that applied for a Foundation scholarship received one.

    BCS is working toward having a scholarship budget. If the scholarship budget maxed out, they would start the tuition review process. No students are turned away for financial reasons. Every student that wanted to attend BCS this year is in school.

    BCS needs to continue to get the message to the public that there is a lot of financial assistance available to help with the tuition expenses. Hopefully, the Marketing Committee can take the graphs Kaitlin created and make them as user friendly as possible. The new website information will help the families understand their actual tuition cost.

    The impression is that BCS costs more than other area private schools when attending BCS is less expensive than its competitors. Billings Christian and Billings Catholic Schools are the only private schools in the area that have a high school. Billings Christian is not accredited so they cannot compete in sports.

    Superintendent Uhl requested a information determining the percentage of families in each tier group. Kaitlin stated that the number of families in the top tiers and the lowest tiers are much larger than the middle tiers. The middle tiers are not growing and may be shrinking. It is a problem that does not have an easy answer. There are some good ideas in the making. Kaitlin has a pie chart, with information on the percentage of families in each tier group, that is built into Smart Tuition.

    Before and After Care: The before and after care went up 5% this year. Kaitlin presented a cost model that included the wages with salary increase, allocated the facilities for the buildings, and education materials. The cost model shows the breakeven points. The aftercare cost was compared with local programs and the $195 for monthly aftercare at BCS is $25 less than the YMCA price which is $220. More investigation is being done into what other Daycare/Preschools cost to make sure we are competitive in the market.

    Bussing Fee: The bussing fee will be 5 percent higher in 2018-2019 school year. The bussing has operated at a loss since BCS started bussing students A new Five year contract was signed with Sarpy Transportation this year.

    Health Insurance: It is a major concern with an unknown cost of health insurance for the upcoming year. The changes that will be made with the Diocese and the impact that it will have on the health insurance expenses is unknown. If that change is significant, BCS will be challenged to keep the increased wage and employee benefits that has been given over the past few years.

    BCS runs at a very tight financial level and it may cause challenges if health insurance and benefits continue to escalate in the manor that they have been raising. BCS is always trying to maintain tuition at a reasonable cost and pay the teachers a reasonable wage. With a 3 percent increase in tuition, the hope is to keep the benefit costs down and be able to continue to pay a reasonable wage.

    Kaitlin has received an estimate for the health insurance and it may go up about 9 percent, vision will stay the same. and dental will go up 4 percent. The major concern is that the BCS premium structure differs from the Diocese.

    BCS and the Diocese are in the process of combining the 2 benefit structures. The Business Committee will come up with a plan and present it to Rich at the Diocese. Kaitlin spoke to Therese, the BCS insurance representative, and her understanding is that this year the focus will be on the vision and dental plan. Kaitlin has those rates and they have been reviewed. If BCS switches to the Diocesan vison and dental plan, Kaitlin has calculated the premium structure and how much it will impact the budget. Kaitlin hopes that the plan presented will be accepted by the Diocese and they will continue to work closer to the BCS plan as BCS works closer to their benefit program. It is a big question mark on the budget. Last year the health plan increase was 14 percent so this year it will be less.

    Currently BCS has a voluntary dental and vision plan but the Diocese pays for the dental and vision. BCS and the Diocese are on 2 different plans. The Diocesan plan is better than the BCS plan and is less expensive. It would be providing better insurance to the BCS staff and they would also have lower premiums. That change will cost BCS between $30,000 and $50,000 extra a year if we are made to align with the diocese.

    Vote: Leo made a motion to adopt an increase in tuition of 3 percent, add a technology fee of $100 for every student in the system, an increase of before and after school care of 5 percent, and an increase of busing fees of 5 percent. The $100 technology fee can be added to the fundraising fee, paid up front or added to the tuition, whichever the family prefers. Ashley seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.

    Full Bus: Kaitlin was informed the Heights bus is full. It is not full because of the home route students. It is full because of the aftercare students. There are students that want to start riding on the Heights bus and the bus driver said no.

    Kaitlin talked to the manager at Sarpy Transportation and he said it would be $50 a day to add a bus for the aftercare students. For the remainder of the year, the cost would be $4,500. The increase in income from the bus requests so far would be about $1,000 making the addition to the bus expense this year $3,500.

    Parents and staff were concerned with the bus being too full and the issues it was causing. The extra bus will only be needed until the end of the school year. The aftercare program will be at St. Francis next year and those students will not have to be bussed. BCS does not want to turn requests for busing down and an overcrowded bus is not acceptable.

    Vote: Stella made a motion to add a bus to take the aftercare students to ECEC for the remainder of the school year. Brittney seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously with 2 abstentions.

    President’s Report: 18-19 School Calendar: The school calendar needed some revision, so it will be sent to the Board by email for approval when it is finished.

    Updating of Strategic Plan Document: The Board was asked to review the Strategic Plan document. BCS is headed into the next phase of strategic planning. Changes were made to the document to reflect the progress made since the last strategic planning meeting 5 years ago. The administrative team has had input on the progress. Shaun wants to make sure the information is reflective of how the Board sees the progress before the next planning meeting.

    Rita Turley will facilitate the next strategic planning session, but it is unknown if she or other stakeholders are aware of the progress made since the last strategic plan was done. It was agreed that the Strategic Plan document would be reviewed in 5 years and we are on schedule to follow that recommendation.

    Leadership Billings: Two days every year Leadership Billings visits Central. The staff does a great job hosting them. It is one of those opportunities to let the community learn about BCS and all the wonderful things that happen here.

    Shaun updated a template with things that have been done since he started working at BCS. The only thing not updated were the MAP scores which are from 2016 but they will be replaced with the 2017 scores. Everything else is up-to-date including demographics, ethnicity, and percent of Catholic students. The number of Catholic students at BCS came up 2 percent this year. The student population went from 69 percent Catholic students and 31 percent non-Catholic to 71 percent Catholic and 29 percent no- Catholic.

    Shaun changed the tiers to opportunities that people have for scholarships. Also included were the latest scores and scholarship dollars that were offered to students graduating from BCCHS.

    Next Meeting: The next Board meeting is scheduled for January 17, 2018. If there is no need to meet, the Board will be advised in advance.

    Adjournment: The meeting adjourned at 4:57 pm.
    Respectfully Submitted: Shaun Harrington, Billings Catholic Schools President