Catholic schools board discusses financial shortfalls

2010-11-16T18:23:00Z 2010-11-17T00:43:32Z Catholic schools board discusses financial shortfalls

By ROB ROGERS

Of The Gazette Staff

The Billings Gazette
November 16, 2010 6:23 pm  • 

The Billings Catholic Schools Foundation is hoping to find more ways to make money.

With the economic downturn of the past few years, investments by the foundation have not returned as much money as they had in the past, forcing officials to borrow money from the schools' endowment to make up the difference.

The foundation is about $353,000 in the red.

“We're moving forward,” Leo O'Brien, a member of the foundation's executive committee, told the board during its Tuesday meeting.

O'Brien spoke extensively about the Billings Catholic Schools' move from operating a simple endowment in the early 2000s to establishing and running during the past half of the decade a foundation independent of the schools. It was a smart move, O'Brien said. And it has allowed the schools to have more financial transparency with its donors and the public.

The challenge now, O'Brien said, is to “enlarge the pie” so that the foundation can earn what it needs to cover its operational costs and still give to the schools what they need.

“The foundation concept is very sound,” he said.

Also during the meeting, trustees heard reports from its various committees, including an update on the schools' financial footing. Of concern were financial losses in its childcare program.

Dulcey Eubank reported that salary expenses at one of the system's daycare sites jumped by $7,000 this year while income from tuition dropped by about $4,000.

Chairwoman Rita Turley called salary jump a “red flag” and instructed Eubank to investigate it further.

At the schools themselves, Eubank also reported that tuition was down about $48,000 this month due to a rise of outstanding payments and an increase in discounted tuition.

The board then discussed different ways to encourage parents to pay tuition on time, including possibly imposing fines.

Contact Rob Rogers at rrogers@billingsgazette.com or 657-1231.

Contact Rob Rogers at rrogers@billingsgazette.com or 657-1231.

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