By Jeong Bin Lee
There is a considerable bill to pay to be a student at the American School of Warsaw. So where does this tuition money go? To find out more about the school’s finances, Warrior News talked with Mr. James Young, ASW’s finance and operations director.
Running ASW requires expenditures on vast resources and personnel, which in turn requires generating considerable revenue. For example, the draft budget proposal for 2019-20 lists total revenue of $23,937,686, an increase of $410,731 from this year’s budget.
On the front page of the ASW website, the student-faculty ratio is summarized as 8:1, which helps to explain where the school spends much of this money. Salaries for teachers, maintenance, security, cleaning staff, and others, adds up to $14.896 million for this year’s 2018-19 budget.
While Mr. Young described the trend to be approximately a 3% annual increase in salaries, the 2019-20’ draft budget displays an increase of 3.8% (from $14.896 to $15.466 million). The explanation for the raise is that teachers get paid depending on their degrees and experience. Therefore, every year, teachers receive an increase in their salaries, which is guaranteed by their contracts, because they earn 1 more year of experience or, as Mr. Young calls it, “increase in seniority.”
So what does ASW overspend on? “Technically, nothing,” says Mr. Young. Each year the expenditure is utilized suitably within the given budget and “each decision is well considered before it’s made to ensure that it’s necessary to achieve the mission of the school.”
What should we spend more on? “I don’t think I can answer that. Simply put, the school budgets for whatever the school needs to achieve its mission,” said Mr. Young
Today, it is hard to imagine ASW without the annex building but it is equally hard to imagine the debt which can be attributed to its construction. According to Mr. Young, the school’s debt currently totals $11 million.
The proposed 2019-2020 budget data, along with 2018-19 approved budget, indicate that this year the school paid $1.86 million in debt service, and next year the school will pay somewhat less: $1.25 million, or a 33% decrease. Mr. Young says that the debt is “payable till April 2026”.
It is still unknown what the school will do with the extra $1.25 million revenue after the school repays the debt.
It is important to remember that ASW is non-profit organization. We were unable to ascertain whether $24 million in revenue is a lot for schools like ASW, as Mr. Young did not have comparable statistics from other international schools. “For ASW this range of revenues is needed to cover the annual operating costs of the school,” says Mr. Young.