St Ignatius parents question transparency around fee hike | Loop Cayman Islands

The content originally appeared on: Cayman Compass

Following the recent Easter break, parents of St. Ignatius Catholic School were informed in a letter that not only will the $1,000 per month school fees increase by 6 per cent, they must now make an additional financial contribution of $500 for each student towards the school’s $8 million multi-purpose sports hall. While the fee increase is a big blow to parents, there are other questions about the school’s governance, finances and how they are being applied. As such, some parents are now calling on the Ministry of Education to look further into the matter.

Some parents are asking for an investigation because they say that, in addition to a government grant of KYD$105,263 given to the school, money was raised via donations and fund raisers. As a result, these parents were of the view that the school had all of the necessary money in place for the multi-purpose sports hall and, accordingly, they were not expecting to be taxed further.

In order to add colour to the situation, one parent explained:

This funding for the new building was more or less secured a few years ago to my knowledge. Things come up and go up I know as that’s how the world has been the last couple of years but to get a letter like that from the school was a gut punch.

There is nowhere that I’ve seen that they even ask for this money, and I’ve never heard of this happening at any other school here.

Also in the last couple weeks the church has asked for money in collection at a mass service for a new audio system for the church. Where does it end? We went through this during covid lockdown when we were the only school I know of made to [pay] full tuition price.

“Despite all of this we continue to see increases in school fees,” another parent added.

The school, however, attempted to justify the increases in their April 2022 letter to parents. The letter said that “due to the economic impact of the global pandemic, there has been a ripple effect in the acquisition of overseas building materials by the construction company… Given the significant rise in construction and other related costs, the estimated final bill is expected to exceed KYD8 million.”

Some parents, who have multiple children enrolled in the school and who are already struggling with post-pandemic expenses and other issues, however, are not buying the school’s explanation.

“These financials for the school need to be busted open and made available for the people like us who are funding this school,” one parent demanded.

The comments also follow speculation which is currently brewing amongst parents that “the sister church in the Brac or Little Cayman gets money from us to fix [their] church also” and that “the Catholic School/church here is a huge money maker for the Dioceses in Detroit which then funds India.”

The allegations made by parents to Loop News to date are alarming and parents are now publicly calling on the government to request accountability from the school, at least as it relates to the 105k grant given by the government to the school. In fact “this has been a long standing request and plea for government to get involved and update much needed laws and regulations governing private schools,” one parent said.

In order to get the government’s reaction to the concerns raised by parents, the Ministry of Education was contacted regarding the purpose of the $105k government grant given to the school and whether it was appropriately used by the school for a walkway. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Education did not respond by the time of this publication.

Pending the Ministry of Education’s response, the person who will, apparently, now have to deal with all of the parents’ frustrations is Simon Testa, who St. Ignatius Catholic School announced in their Easter letter as the new principal of the school. According to that letter, Mr Testa has over 32 years serving in various senior leadership positions in educational organisations and is expected to start working in August 2022.