Principal's Address 20 September 2013 - Glasshouse Christian College

Principal’s Address 20 September 2013



  • September 19, 2013

School Fee Schedule for 2014

The College Fee Schedule for 2014 is now available for download on our website or you can come into the office to collect one.

I want to thank you for the way you have responded to our requests to pay school fees through the Ezy Pay system this year. We hope you have found this a convenient method for paying your school fees. This has worked well and has meant that fees have been paid on time and right when we have expected them. This has meant that our budgetary and cash flow predictions have been very accurate.

Although it is probably not a popular subject it is important to reflect briefly on why school fees are necessary.

As a school we rely on a mix of Federal and State Government funding (68%) and fee income (32%) to support our staff wages, equipment purchases, buildings, cleaning, furniture and the incidental costs that allow a school to run. This mix is determined by the Federal and State Government on a needs based system. We manage the College frugally while keeping the standard of the facilities and education high. Our school fees are among the lowest of any independent school on the Sunshine Coast.

What about Gonski?

No doubt you have heard all about the Gonski reforms and the “rivers” of extra money supposedly flowing to independent, catholic and public schools. We also know that the Coalition government has also committed to these reforms. The facts are however that a) much of the money according to the Gonski plan will be allocated in 2018/2019. B) The Coalition has only committed to the new funding model across the forward estimates, that is, until 2017. Up until that time the promised funding is modest and largely in line with our annual funding increases as indexed by the government.

Next year we have made some modifications to our fee structure from previous years, all of which will make our fee schedule simpler, fairer and more transparent.  These changes are summarised as follows:

  1. 1.       The establishment of a Resource Levy

From 2014 the Year 7-12 subject levies that have previously been charged as term amounts, have now been bundled into a common Resource Levy. On average, this could have cost parents anything up to 700 dollars per year, depending on the subjects the child was doing for the year..

Other items that will be included in the Resource Levy are:

  • All subject levies (applies to Years 7-12)
  • Sports levies
  • Student ID card
  • Locker hire
  • College Yearbook
  • Costs associated with curricular and co-curricular activities for Primary such as instrumental programs, swimming program, etc.
  • The Year 7 Canberra Trip

It is also important to note that the College has for some years included excursion and camp costs, the provision of laptops, the loan of student textbooks and many other items as part of our tuition fees (i.e. they are not charged in addition to the stated fees).  This is not necessarily true of other Independent Schools.

The exceptions to bundling (i.e. those items that will continue to be charged separately) include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Booklist Items
  • Formal costs
  • The purchase of clothing from the Uniform Shop
  • Costs associated with late or non-return of textbooks/library books
  • College bus fares

The reasons that the College has opted to pursue the bundling of its school fees are as follows:

(i)             Transparency and costs known up front

There will be no surprises with respect to your child’s education.  For the majority of our parents who are subscribed to Ezypay, it is easier for you to estimate your total fees payable for the year in advance

(ii)            Ease and Efficiency of Administration

Bundled fees require far less administration and data entry saving the school substantial labour, thereby keeping cost pressures and fees down.

2.             A more generous Sibling Structure

The burden of paying school fees falls most heavily upon those families with multiple children at school.  We have made our sibling structure more generous in the following way:

 
Child2013 Tuition Fee Discount2014 Tuition Fee Discount
1st childNilNil
2nd child10%10%
3rd child20%30%
4th child40%100%
5th child80%100%

For the first time in 2014, we have extended the applicability of sibling discounts to children being enrolled in the College’s Prep program.

3.             Abolition of Voluntary Building and Library Fund Donations on the Fee Schedule

The Building Fund and Library Fund donations was originally introduced to the College’s Fee Schedule in lieu of a fee increase in 2007. The motive behind this strategy was that the necessary fee increase could be realised but there would be a ‘discount’ provided to our parents in the form of a tax deduction. This strategy was perfectly appropriate as long as:

a)       The tax laws would allow it.

b)       Parents would continue to make these voluntary contributions.

This was a common strategy employed by schools at that time.

Since that time however, the Australian Tax Office has changed the rules governing the deductibility of contributions to these funds and the way that they are required to appear on the College’s fee statements.  Concurrently with this development, the number of families contributing to these voluntary funds has been diminishing.  The College depends upon these funds for the continual establishment and upgrading of our buildings and campus, so as a consequence, we have removed the voluntary donations from our fee statements and have replaced it with a compulsory capital payment (which, unfortunately, will not be tax deductible).  Whilst this is not ideal, it also means the burden of capital development will fall equally upon all families of the College whose children benefit from our facilities.

If you are in a position to give I would encourage you to continue donating money to the tax deductible Building and/or Library Funds as these discretionary contributions enable the College to accelerate much needed building works and acquire library assets that would otherwise not be provided for as part of the College’s annual budget.  Please contact our Business Manager, Mr John Dohler, on 5439 0033 for more information on how to make a donation.

4.             Utilisation of Annual Billing and the Ezypay Direct Debit System

As in 2013, we shall continue to employ Annual Billing for 2014 fees, i.e. all of the fees for the year will be invoiced to parents in January with statements issued at the commencement of each term.  This will make it easy for parents to calculate the necessary Ezypay payments to extinguish their balance by the end of the year.  Parents are reminded that utilisation of our Ezypay system is a condition of their childrens’ continued enrolment at the College and that payment by other methods may only be made in the rarest and most exceptional of circumstances.

5.             Discount on annual payments

A 5% discount will be applied on all annual fee invoices paid in a lump sum by 7 February 2014.

6.             Environmental Levy

As you will have noticed, the College’s communications have become increasingly electronic in nature and this has had numerous well-documented benefits. This is why it is the preferred method of corporate communication across the world and why paper based communication is in decline. Paper is relatively environmentally problematic, expensive and requires more intensive administration.

However, we also appreciate that paper communication may be preferred over electronic (emails, etc.) for a number of reasons. Therefore, next year we will have to charge an Environmental Levy of 100 dollars per family per year for those who specifically request paper copies (in writing) of all communications. These families will still receive emails and can switch to electronic communications at any time. If a switch back is made to electronic communications, the Environmental Levy will be refunded on a pro rata basis.

After these structural changes have been accounted for, the real terms fee increases for next year are year level specific and range from 0.3% for Year 3 to 6.7% for Year 12. Please note that these calculations are accurate for families who have been contributing to the Building and Library funds as they previously stood. To find out what the fee changes mean for your child’s specific year level, please consult the 2014 Fee Schedule on the GCCC website (under Enrolment).

 

Volunteers’ lunch

I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all of our wonderful volunteers to attend the Volunteers’ Lunch on Friday 4 October. The lunch is being held at the Beerwah Community Hall from 12 to 2pm and will be catered by our talented Hospitality students.

There is a very true quote: ‘Volunteers don’t get paid because they are priceless.” There is no way we can ever repay our volunteers for their tireless work so we would like to use this event to say thank you.

Please RSVP to College Admin before Friday 4 October and let them know if you have any dietary requirements.

Holidays

It’s been a busy term with the Athletic Carnivals, Shine on Arts Evening QCS tests and exam blocks and I want to thank you for supporting the College and your children through this term.

Term 4 is always the busiest but it is also the most exciting. We see our Year 6 students graduate to Middle School, Year 9 to Senior School and Year 12 graduate to follow their chosen career paths.

We have our combined Middle and Senior School Awards Night on Tuesday 5 November at the Events Centre in Caloundra, the Prep to Year 2 Carols by Candlelight here at the College on Monday 2 December and the Year 3-6 Presentation Night in the church on Tuesday 3 December.

I am looking forward to seeing you at these upcoming events as we celebrate the achievements and milestones of our students.

Mike Curtis, Principal

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