Why Support ACS
Because ACS employs more ex-pat teachers than any other school in Lebanon, and because we maintain small classes and a great deal of personal attention, ACS has the highest tuition of any school in the country. Even so, we cannot balance our annual budget without considerable voluntary financial support from parents, alumni, and friends.
To explain this phenomenon and why we need your support, we have created the following Frequently Asked Questions about our finances.
In order for ACS to provide the education that supports our mission, we need to hire and retain outstanding faculty, staff and administrators.
69% of the ACS budget goes to support salaries and benefits. This year 42% of our budget ($8,399,924) went into salaries for 180 teachers and 84 staff members. 27% of our budget ($5,501,818) went to cover benefit costs. We spend $290,935 on professional development, helping faculty and staff to optimize their knowledge and perfect their craft in order to provide the best possible education for your children. We have an aging campus and last year alone we spent $700,000 on refurbishing our plant. Last summer this sum included a new science wing in BD, converting 5th floor in BD to classroom, painting, and a myriad number of expenses that contributed to making our campus more pleasant and attractive.
The top five expenses in our budget are:
Salaries total cost for 264 employees ($8.4 Million)
Benefits for 264 employees ($5.5 Million)
Academic Programs ($1.8 Million)
Depreciation ($1.7 Million)
Facilities Operation ($858,000)
Tuition alone does not cover the cost of an ACS education; in fact, tuition covers only 83% of what it costs to educate your child. As a result, the school has to raise $3,402,252, which averages out to an additional $3,135 per student at ACS.
To cover that deficit and balance our budget this year, we need to raise $1,000,000 from the Annual Fund, and we rely on our generous parents and alumni to achieve that goal. We also rely on the capital fees from new students, on $350,000 in interest income, $142,000 as a draw from our endowment, from auxiliary income from programs like the Summer Camp, and funding from USAID and ASHA.
The bottom line is that no one at ACS pays the full cost of the education for their children here. We rely on voluntary support for the Annual Fund to balance our budget. Donations to the Annual Fund support everything from campus renovations, to financial aid and scholarships, to faculty professional development, to art, music, athletics, technology and supplies.
All schools and universities need to constantly update their campuses to insure that the facilities keep up with the program.
At ACS, our new building is the first we have constructed in 60 years. Part of the building is for academic purposes including 4 fifth grade classrooms, 3 music rooms, and 2 ES language classrooms. The remainder of the building is devoted to 16 faculty apartments and an apartment for the Head of School, including an entertainment space for various school functions.
We built faculty apartments because the ACS contract with foreign hires requires us to provide living accommodations for them. With our own new building, we can provide those accommodations in a safer and less expensive fashion. We have saved around $355,000 this year from investing into a new building.
We hire ex-pats because we are the American School and our Board and most of our parents want us to offer an American Program with a complement of teachers who are up to date on the latest educational trends in the USA, and who are native speakers of English. This is very important to our identity.
Currently about 1/3 of our teachers are foreign hires, and this seems to be about the right ratio to maintain going forward. We want to end up with a good balance of excellent teachers from Lebanon and from abroad. When we recruit teachers from abroad, we need to fly them here, house, and support them. Our tuitions are higher than other schools in Lebanon primarily because we employ a higher percentage of ex-pats than any other school.
We have just completed the first new ACS building in many years, and we do our best to maintain all of our buildings and play spaces. You will note that depreciation is a major expense for us and we spend a great deal annually on maintaining and updating our facilities.
This summer we will start with renovating the MS science wing and nursery playground and start the phase 1 of PV & SWH construction.
Over the next few years ACS will turn its attention to our Master Plan. That plan calls for us to build an expansive new facility on the site of our green field. We will have 2 floors of parking below the building, a learning center, meeting and gathering space on the first two floors, classrooms for Middle School and High School, on the next three levels, a new gymnasium and fitness center on the top two floors, and a beautiful new field overlooking the sea on the roof. When that new building is complete, we can turn our attention to Early Years and Elementary School, and upgrade those facilities as well. Of course this plan will involve raising considerably more money.
Endowment is a corpus of funds that have been accumulated over time from endowed gifts to the school, from bequests, and from accumulated surpluses in the operating fund. Some gifts were made to support scholarships at school, some to support awards, and many are unrestricted.
ACS invests the endowment, which now totals $3,203,448 in the "Common Fund" in the USA. We have an investment committee of our Board of Trustees and they have authorized applying 4% of the three year rolling average of the endowment to the annual operating budget, funds that subsidize every ACS student.
Our goal is to raise more funds to support the endowment as a large endowment is the only way to mitigate tuition increases and hedge against unexpected expenses.
Yes, ACS has a number of different scholarships, and a total of 23 students who receive some financial aid assistance from the school.
We also have 64 faculty and staff children who receive our support to attend ACS. We have 26 named endowed scholarships that were created by generous donors and provide 100% support for the recipients. Some of our scholarships are targeted by donors to match specific criteria. For instance, several generous benefactors have given scholarships to support talented Palestinian students. We have other scholarships that are supported through annual gifts and a few scholarships that are supported out of our operating budget.
In all cases, scholarship students must meet a "needs" test, to insure that their families are in fact deserving and that they qualify for financial assistance. Earning a scholarship to attend ACS is very competitive and scholarship recipients often are some of our very best students.
Tuition goes up because we need to continually refurbish our facilities, add technology, strengthen our programs, and increase salaries and benefits in order to attract and retain excellent teachers.
As noted above, salaries and benefits make up the most significant part of our budget, and for salaries to go up; tuition must go up as well.
We have a Finance Committee of the Board of Trustees who review our finances regularly and prepare an annual budget for full board approval. We are also audited annually. This year our audit firm was Deloitte. We also have a dedicated Business Office team including highly qualified bookkeepers and accountants.
Whenever you have questions about ACS finances, you are invited to meet with Johnny Tanas, Business Manager.