Opposition forces ICS to cut size of fee rise
Parents say increase unjustified and complain of communication gap
International Christian School has cut the size of an unpopular fee increase following 'very strong opposition' from parents.
The school's board decided at a meeting last Friday to scale back the increase from 9.3 per cent at primary, 9.1 per cent at secondary and 7.7 per cent at kindergarten to 6.8 per cent across the board.
However, some parents say the increase - the fourth in five years - is still not justified and have raised concerns about the lack of communication from management.
Notification of the revised increase was via a brief message posted on the school's intranet late on Thursday night.
'Comprehensive details will follow shortly,' the message stated.
Principal Ben Norton is overseas on a staff recruitment drive and no one in a position of authority was available to comment this week.
The school announced the fee increases in November, ahead of a December deadline for re-enrolments but after mounting resistance from parents, the school held two forums on the issue last month.
Mario Pereira, chairman of the school's parent association and a member of the board, said there had been 'very strong opposition' at last month's forums.
'The tuition increase is a necessary one as the school needs to take on additional teachers,' he said, adding that teachers' pay had also been frozen for several years. 'When you compare the salaries of our teachers to other teachers in Hong Kong, you realise they are really on a mission.'
In its justification for the original increase, the school said it plannedto hire 15 extra teachers this year - an increase of about 20 per cent.
But parent Jimmy Fung said the reduced increase was still too high.
'I personally think this is unreasonable,' he said. 'Student-teacher ratios at the school are already quite low. Among other international schools, we are somewhere in the middle. No academic institution would increase its staff by 20 per cent in one year.'
Mr Fung said many parents were disappointed with the school's handling of the process. 'There is no transparency at all,' he said. 'Although there were two forums, it was more of a confirmation than consultation.'