Board Chair Harold Kim is not one to dodge a question, a trait he showed at this year’s Annual General Meeting. Tuition and school fees are always a hot topic, and given the volatility across the world, this year was no exception.
Harold outlined that between the protests and the pandemic, HKIS saw a drop in revenue — giving fell by more than half, and income from activities and rental dropped by a quarter. In addition, a tuition rebate was given to families, at a cost of HK$13.4 million. Despite this, HKIS remains financially strong, supported by a generous endowment built over the years, and enhanced further by giving to the HKIS Annual Fund.
Following the presentations, members of the community asked pointed questions about whether it was wise or not to spend money on large development projects during a time of austerity. Some families within the HKIS community are feeling the financial pinch of the global recession and pandemic, and isn’t it a little untoward to splash out on a new building?
Harold made it clear that the Board recognizes that it’s a challenging environment. To clarify, funding for building buildings does not come from tuition. Tuition only covers annual academic operation expenses, with capital projects financed from different sources.
The Master Facilities Plan was developed in the early 2000s, and the current stages are part of this long-term plan. Such projects are funded by debentures, capital levy fees, investments, and gifts through the Advancement Office, NOT tuition.
Another pressing question was around tuition rates for next year. Will there be a tuition increase? And if HKIS so financially robust, why don’t we use the endowment to get us through tough times?
The Board did approve a deficit for the 2019-20 school year. In a normal year, tuition covers our costs. The goal is to have no surplus and no deficit, after an endowment draw (subsidy) every year. But in these extraordinary times, the school’s leadership wished to help the community out by running a deficit to the tune of HK$7million. As for next year, the hope is that as things hopefully return to normal, so will HKIS’s expenses.
*A few weeks after the AGM, it was subsequently announced that a tuition credit would be offered for HKIS families returning to HKIS during the 2021-22 school year. This credit offsets the increase in tuition planned for 2021-22 (subject to EDB approval).
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