From Fr. Derek Sakowski, Dean of the Eau Claire Deanery
Dear Regis Families, Staff, and Stakeholders,
I am writing to clear the air in response to rumors that have been circulating regarding our Regis Catholic Schools finances. Those rumors are seriously misleading and inaccurate. All of you have invested a huge amount of time, money, and energy into the Regis family and deserve to know what is going on, as well as what is NOT going on.
There are two main concerns. The first is that we have arrived at a cash flow problem. The second is that we should have noticed the cash problem sooner, and did not. Both concerns are being addressed with great seriousness.
There are NOT any indications of misappropriation of funds.
Cash Flow: A cash flow problem means that during certain times of the year, you do not have enough cash on hand to pay your immediate bills. When your #1 immediate bill is employee payroll, you indeed have a problem. We are keeping up with our payrolls, but in May, we had to sign a revolving line of credit to get us through the ups and downs of the next year. I was NOT happy to sign that document. I remember how hard we all worked and how happy we were to see Regis debt free. We plan to stay that way!
Not Catching the Problem Soon Enough: We now see clearly that during 2016-2018, our cash balances were steadily dropping due to five main factors: making several capital improvements, adding staff positions, raising teacher salaries, offering more stipends to employees, and paying higher health care premiums. The money is all accounted for, but it is not in our bank accounts anymore – it is in our people and our physical assets. It is great that we spent money on worthwhile people and causes. Unfortunately, we overspent and caught it later than we should have.
As a result, the following actions have been taken / are being taken / will be taken:
- I had volunteers from the Finance Committee conduct a more thorough examination of the cash flow problem. They found no signs of misappropriation of funds.
- Kimberly Huston (finance coordinator for the Diocesan Office of Catholic Schools) has spent several hours reviewing our financial statements for the last few years and is making very helpful recommendations. She found no signs of misappropriation of funds.
- We will very soon bring in an independent 3rd party expert to quell all rumors. More importantly, they will assist us by providing recommendations for improvement.
- The Finance Committee met June 11. We combed over the last 3 years of finances and verified with confidence that the 2019-20 budget is balanced and sustainable.
- The Finance Committee scheduled two additional summer meetings. A few of us are working on the matter several days a week.
- By the end of the summer, I expect some restructuring in how we approach planning, decision-making, budgeting, and financial reporting.
- Most importantly, in the fall, we want to form a task force so that we can return in earnest to developing a detailed long-range financial plan that includes serious and sustainable increases in teacher compensation.
We are early in the process. Here is what we have found so far:
A. Our reporting methods in 2016-2018 were accurate, but they were more geared for the requirements of the Department of Public Instruction. They were difficult to use internally for monitoring our own vital signs or for making strategic decisions. We are reworking our methods of reporting.
B. We did not have a business plan that we were able to consult when making strategic decisions. We will develop one.
C. We need to make changes to our planning processes, our decision-making processes, and our meeting structures in order to maximize the involvement of key stakeholders and the skills they can offer.
Please pray for us as we work very hard to ensure a vibrant future for Regis Catholic Schools!