The Sermon on The Amount

Do you know how much it costs to have a small “second chance” school in Belize City?  I didn’t until I got here and got involved.  I thought you might like to know so let’s break it down.

Overhead: FUM uses 10% of your donation to assist in covering the expenses of the central office doing its part of the work. As well they it should.  Our bookkeeper, Barbara, does a masterful job of making sure that all donations are handled with integrity and the money gets where it is supposed to go.  I am in constant conversation with Terri and Eden and would feel completely lost without them.  Annie, Shari, and Micah  produce articles for Quaker Life, put out bulletin inserts, update the web page and facebook, and send emails to keep people informed of the work.

By way of further explanation, the school budget is made in Belize dollars, but I will write this article in American dollars.  The usual quoted exchange rate is $2 BZ = $1 US.  And that is about right, but not exactly. When a wire is sent to Belize for deposit in our account here, we lose about 4% in wire and transaction fees, and the same thing happens if we use a credit card from a US Bank.  So, please know that if you want to send $100 to support the Belize Friends School, you will need to send $114.  Don’t feel like you are getting “ripped off”, you’re not. It just helps if you understand the whole picture.

The Budget: Let me simplify by combining some line items and rounding these numbers off. (However if you would like see the actual budget, just email me, I will be glad to provide it.)

The cost of maintaining one half-time principal, half-time teacher with 10 years experience and one first-year full time teacher: $27,000 (salary and benefits)

The cost of the building, maintenance, utilities and insurance: $6000

Other expenses like advertising, postage, supplies such as toilet paper, writing paper, chalk, markers, and drinking water: $2400

Staff and student services including uniforms, field trips, student dental visits, staff training: $2000

There are some designated funds that individuals and groups contribute to:

Feeding program: $2000

Rewards program (formerly bicycles): $600

Scholarships: $2000

Textbooks: $250

So if I have handled my calculator correctly, that adds up to $42,250

We get a reimbursement from the Ministry of Education for teacher salaries in the amount of $9000

Total cost of running the school, if we round it off, is about: $33,250 per year.

So if we understand about the money that needs to help offset administrative costs at the home office, we need contributions of about $38,000 per year, $3,200 per month.

We are giving approximately 20 students per year an education for $38,000, about $1,900 per student.

(This, of course, does not include the costs of having me, or the Barbers, in Belize.  The money for those ministry accounts is raised separately. Now I’m going to be really blunt.  It cost about $100,000 to keep the Barbers in Belize per year.  It’s going to cost about $30,000 for me to be here this year. If my time is spent acting as a school administrator, then the costs per student rise significantly.)

Summary: But if we just figure the actual costs of the school, $2000 per student per year is not bad at all. When I was negotiating salaries in the Mooresville school system 20 years ago (20 years, are you kidding me?) we used to figure $5,000 per student.

Here is the crux of the matter. Contributions since July 1 have not kept up with the costs of the school. We are running between $500 and $1000 per month short. I don’t want anyone to feel guilty about that; the costs of running the school have risen with the hiring of a second teacher. Can you or your meeting or Sunday school class or youth group help out? I know many meetings are working on budgets for next year. May I be so bold as to ask if you could set aside a bit for Belize?

It would really be appreciated by 20 young at-risk kids on the south side of Belize City.

Well, actually, the kids are pretty clueless about the whole funding thing, but it would really be appreciated by Ms. Candi and Ms. Darcel. And me.

2 thoughts on “The Sermon on The Amount

  1. What a terrific and clear explanation, especially about FUM’s administrative costs. What do we get from FUM? You’ve covered it clearly!

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