Info FLT: MoM LFI Tokyo Board Meeting 2020年6月4日

Dear Members,

 

Over the last few months, our school has been through a series of intense debates, we wish to inform you of our FLT association’s actions.

Today we report the key points discussed during the recent LFIT Board meeting, which lasted almost 3 hours and a half. A detailed summary will be available soon on the LFIT website(LFI Tokyo – Councils). You must also have received a message from the school outlining its decisions on June 5.

The meeting started with an explanation by the Headmaster, Mr Wajnberg, regarding an incident that occurred on May 27. In an email sent by mistake, he relayed (erratum: expressed-> relayed)  inappropriate comments about an employee, member of one of the LFI Tokyo unions. The headmaster apologized for this. Letters from the school union expressing complaints about this incident will be appended to the official meeting minutes.

A unique characteristic of the LFI Tokyo Board is that it is chaired by the President of AEFE, Mr Brochet. Mr Brochet explained the creation of a special credit line from Agence France Tresor (an entity under the French Ministry of Finance) to support the schools belonging to the AEFE network. This credit line amounts to 100 million euros. For the time being, this credit line should be seen as a loan rather than a subsidy, so schools should build their budget accordingly. In addition, LFI Tokyo having a sound financial base, it is not necessarily among the schools most likely to benefit from that support. However, if this loan is converted into a subsidy, as announced by Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, the measures implemented to support families facing financial hardships would in principle become eligible. In our specific case, the measures taken by the Caisse de Solidarite (Solidarity Fund to help families) could partially or wholly be financed by AEFE. In any case we shall remain cautious with our expectations.

The Solidarity Fund has helped about 30 families so far, and will likely continue to operate in the same way during the school year 2020-2021. In case you personally faced a decrease in income, do not hesitate to apply for support, and we can support you along this process. The Solidarity Fund committee consists of the Headmaster, teachers, the LFI Tokyo Administrative & Finance Director, an accountant and parents representatives.

A request we have been making for a long time was finally validated by the Board: “Pupils who have left Japan for one year or less will be exempted from first registration fees”. We also requested that this rule be retroactively valid for year 2019-2020, which was approved by the Board.

One of the key missions of the Board is to discuss and approve financial statements for the latest fiscal year (April 2019 to March 2020). The LFI Tokyo Administrative & Finance Director outlined the financial situation of the entity. He highlighted the healthy financial situation of LFI Tokyo in the previous year. However, the Covid-19 crisis jeopardizes these dynamics, and it is still difficult to assess accurately the potential impact of this crisis on the LFI Tokyo. The closure of ancillary services from March to May 2020 (school bus, canteen,…) will impact the financial situation of 2020-2021. Potential departure of pupils or cancellation of registrations for the September 2020 school start are still few, the waiting list allows to compensate for them at the moment, but it is difficult to forecast what the situation will be in September. Financial statements were approved unanimously.

Subsequently, three topics related to LFI Tokyo’s response to the Covid crisis and particularly impact on families were discussed: invoicing of meals, 30% reduction on invoicing of the last term’s tuition fees for Kindergarten level, and reassessment of the tuition fees increase (+1.8%) scheduled for 2020-2021.

1- The discussion regarding invoicing of meals in June was initiated by the school Management. We asked what the cost of the new bento system was. LFIT management answered that the cost is the same as regular meals. If a discount was made, this would benefit only Primary school, and its cost would be borne by all families, since High school pupils will not be able to use canteen services in June. In case of full exemption of meal invoicing, total cost would be 16 million yen. Moreover, the service is performed again, contrary to the situation that existed during school closure. After discussions, members of the Board voted unanimously to approve that services will be invoiced according to the number of meals taken by pupils, without discount. Families can choose to opt out of the meal service for June.

2- As we had previously requested, we discussed a partial exemption of tuition fees for the 3rd term, amounting to 30%, for Kindergarten pupils. This measure was authorized by AEFE for all the schools that belong to its network. The cost of this measure for LFI Tokyo is 24 million yen. Although we support this measure, we are mindful that it induces a difference between Kindergarten, Primary school and Junior/High school pupils. Mr Brochet mentioned that Kindergarten families faced difficulties specific to that level, which should be taken into account and justify the decision. This decision was approved unanimously.
We hope that the proposal from Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, will be validated by the French parliament. This would convert at least part of the 100 million euros allocated into a subsidy, and that part of it could be used by LFI Tokyo to cover the loss resulting from this 30% exemption of Kindergarten tuition fees.

3- The last topic was the reassessment of the planned increase of tuition fees for 2020-2021, due to the current crisis. The LFIT Administrative & Finance Director estimates that the impact of cancelling the increase (+1.8%) would be 36 million yen. He underlined that, as LFI Tokyo employees gain seniority every year, and progress in the school salary grid accordingly, total salary costs automatically increase every year. A 0.87% increase of salary costs is forecasted in 2020-2021, and a similar or greater increase should be expected in 2021-2022. In addition, the Japanese consumption tax increase leads to a 0.47% increase in costs. A first option of 0.95% increase of tuition fees was proposed, to take into account these constraints, while still expressing support for families. Yet the Embassy stated that this scenario would lack clarity, given the 30% reduction of tuition fees approved for Kindergarten. The final proposal submitted to vote was to cancel the tuition fees increase. We chose abstention in this vote, like the representative of LFI Tokyo employees. The proposal was approved.

We wish to express again to our members that one of our key priorities, which we have fought for continuously, is to stabilize tuition fees, to help families plan for the long term. During last year’s meeting of the Board, we had opposed a 3% increase of tuition fees for 2020-2021. We worked this year to redefine this proposal, which led to a scenario for a 1.8% justified increase. We could not vote to support a freezing of tuition fees, as it is not properly financed, in 2020-2021. In the past, we observed that discrepancies between the actual costs of LFI Tokyo and tuition fees always led to higher increases the following years, and created difficult situations for families. If you keep your trust in our team next year, we make a commitment to ensure that the decision made during the Board meeting this year will not result in significant increases in the future.

It should be noted that LFI Tokyo Management has implemented measures to address the structural deficit of the canteen service, which has existed for several consecutive years. Following an audit, the service was reorganized. The cafeteria, which was not fully used, will be closed, which frees space to optimize people flows. Staff previously working at the cafeteria will be reallocated to the main canteen service. We acknowledge these first measures and their effectiveness. We will keep following this issue closely for continuous improvement of the service.

Finally, numerous written questions were submitted (17), LFI Tokyo Management proposed to send written answers, due to the constraints on duration of the meeting. We accepted this proposal and will keep you informed.

Sincerely,

 

The FLT team

 

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