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Tower Road Christian Preschool 14/12/2021 Public Meeting Report

Acknowledgement

The Directors are grateful to God that the preschool could continue to run over the past five years touching the lives of many, and acknowledge that the closure of the preschool was very disappointing and emotional for the Directors, teachers, parents, children and the wider community.

This is the final communication from the Directors. The final report from the Liquidators will be made public when available, expected mid 2022

Timing of the decision to close the preschool relative to the date of the revocation of the licence

Extracted from minutes of BoD meeting 29th September 2021

  • Between 29th September 2021 and February 2022 there will be 12 children leaving equating to half of the roll. (Indicating a roll of 24) Note that in the Centre Managers report dated 11 October 2021 it is recorded that the permanent roll is 29
  • Reporting from APT (the preschool bookings, attendance, billing and staff rostering system) indicated that projected November income in the budget appears to have been highly over estimated, but actual figure will not be known until payment is received on the 1st November. Nic from APT had confirmed that figures from APT correctly reflected the data that had been entered.
  • Board decided to review the end of September financial reports and budget based on September actual data as soon as possible.
  • Also Aniela to confirm boards legal obligations and responsibilities in cases of insolvency.

Report to the Board 5th October 2021

  • On the 5th October the Board received end of September financial reports and a revised cashflow forecast budget.
  • Based on this information received as well as previous information the board decided to seek legal advice and an appointment was made for Wednesday 13th October 2021.

Report on visit to Solicitor Wednesday 13th October 2021

  • The main points from the meeting with the Solicitor were that Directors are expected to act responsibly towards all involved, Directors should act early enough to ensure that no debts remain unpaid at the end of the process, Directors must not continue to operate the company if it is insolvent, and if they fail in the above Directors risk personal liability for outstand debts.
  • The two Directors who attended the meeting with the Solicitor spoke briefly as they left the meeting and it was obvious to both that the preschool needed to close as soon as possible should it become insolvent, however the third needed to be consulted so that evening a summary of the meeting along with further financial information was circulated to the board, and at that point the third Director resigned from the board due to personal reasons.

Decision making context - Planning the closure process

  • Tuesday 5th October 2021 the board decided to seek legal advice regarding the predicted liquidity problem.
  • Wednesday 13th October 2021 2 of the 3 members of the board met with a Solicitor.

The financial picture

  • The bare minimum of children to operate the preschool for a short time is 29 children
  • For the ongoing operation of the preschool a minimum of 33 children is required
  • To recover losses and for the business to grow 36 plus children would be required
  • Financial projections indicated insufficient funds to pay expenses through to March 2022 including holiday pay in December
  • The Centre Manager reported that over the next 6 months, twelve 5 year olds would be leaving and there were no replacement bookings

Possible options considered

  • Reducing staff hours (No because staff already on minimum contracted hours)
  • Reducing staff numbers (No because we would be outside of regulation requirements including the 80% ratio which would reduce funding)
  • Closing the preschool for a short period to investigate other options (No because restarting would require attracting teachers and new families)
  • Securing funding to cover the shortfall (No because contacting known supporters attracted pledges of only $9,000.00 which was a significant shortfall on the $50,000.00 required, and taking the money knowing that the preschool could still fail would be dishonourable to the donors)
  • Why was the pledged funding not taken up (Pledged funding would only be considered if there was sufficient to carry the preschool longer term)

Conclusion

  • After considering all of the above, it was decided that if pledged funding was insufficient, closing the preschool was the only option.

Factors affecting the closure process

  • At what date would the company be unable to meet its financial obligations and become insolvent
  • What would the MOE requirements for the closure of the preschool be

Fact finding

  • 15th October efforts to contact MOE representative Terri Burredge began, with several attempts over a number of days
  •  20th October further financial information indicated that the preschool could not continue operating and remain solvent, and it was decided to close the preschool immediately

Closure Notifications

  • Notifications to staff and parents were prepared for Friday 22nd October
  • Friday morning 22nd October the Center Manager was advised of the closure followed by the staff, and then the parent community. Other stakeholders were advised later in the day and over the weekend.

The Shutdown Process

  • The Centre Manager was asked to stay on to carry out all of the administrative functions necessary to close the preschool
  • Funding resources were actively pursued, although it was becoming increasingly apparent that it would be unlikely to achieve the required amount of $50,000.00
  • Tuesday 26th October 2021 contact was made with the new MOE representative Shannon Woodcock and the email sent to Terri Burridge on the 20th October was forwarded to Shannon.
  • Tuesday 26th October 2021, in response to the reply from Shannon a further email was sent requesting if it was possible for the licence to be suspended for a period of time before it was cancelled. There was no response to this request until 29th October.
  • Thursday 28th October 2021 the Centre Manager emailed an EC11a form advising MOE of the teachers leaving and the email stated “Centre closed down and will not re-open at all”.
  • Friday 29th October 2021 in a telephone call, Shannon advised that the MOE had taken the 28 October email from the Centre Manager as confirmation of the preschool closure and that the licence had been revoked. The Ministry had chosen the 20th October (the date of the boards email to Terri Burridge) as the revocation date, instead of the advised closure date of 22nd October.
  • An email was sent requesting that the TRCP licence be placed in recess for 6 months, however a response from Shannon advised that “as we had received a EC11a form from Tower Road confirming closure I will need to discuss with my colleagues how to proceed with the recess”.
  • A subsequent telephone call from Shannon confirmed that as the “official” EC11a form had been received and acted on the process could not be reversed.
  • Friday 29th October 2021 emails were sent to staff, parents and other stake holders, advising that as the $50,000 of pledged funding had not been reached the preschool would remain closed permanently
  • After full consideration of the winding up process the Directors came to the conclusion that they did not have the knowledge nor expertise required and a liquidator was appointed, resulting in the preschool being placed in voluntary liquidation on the 4th November 2021. The liquidator advised the Directors that the liquidator would handle the winding up process and the Directors should not involve themselves further in any way.

  • The liquidators have full access to and full control over all financial information and relevant documentation and no information nor documents have been withheld, deleted or shredded by the Directors.

Why were the staff not better informed and better cared for emotionally

When a liquidator is appointed, while the company and Board still exists the liquidator takes control of the company and liquidation process. While the Board was advised not to involve themselves in the process, the Board has endeavored to keep the staff informed by email as new information has become available, but the liquidation process takes considerable time.

 An update email was circulated to staff on the 26th October, just 4 days after the closure, and again on the 29th October a brief email was sent confirming the closure. Further emails have been circulated by the board and the liquidator as relevant new information has become available, and a public meeting was arranged for 14th December which two staff members attended.

What happened to the playground upgrade fund

When Matamata Christian Early Learning Centres Ltd took over Tower Road Christian Preschool on the 1 January 2017, an amount had already been earmarked by the previous trust for a playground upgrade. This amount in the TRCP fundraising account is estimated to have been $3942 but it is difficult to establish the exact amount as the full transfer of assets including bank accounts was spread over 18 months or so.

Starting 1 January 2017, transactions, mainly from sales of worm casting tea ,sun hats, Op Shop and tog bags, were accumulating in the fundraising account, and there was a confirmed balance of $7162 at 31 December 2017.

At 31 December 2018 the balance was $14,735, mainly thanks to Op Shop profit ($2,060), Gala Day profit ($3,204) and the continued sales as above.

By 31 December 2019 the fund had grown to 15,117. It is noted that during 2019, an amount of $2,208 from the Op Shop was banked into the operating account and not transferred to the fund raising account, and also the sales profits were not being transferred over. An adjustment for the sales profits was made on the 11th September 2020.

On the 24th February 2020 the amounts of $1,500 and $10,000 were transferred separately from the Kid on the Rock Foundation to the preschool. The $10,000 was a donation received by the Foundation that was tagged for the preschool. The $1,500 was half of the profit from catering for the Matamata Festival of Flowers in the previous year and was tagged for the playground project. The other half of the profit went to Peria Christian Education Inc building fund.

On the 28th September 2020 a further donation of $1,000 untagged funds was made by the Foundation to the preschool from the Trustees accumulated funds.

During 2020 the board was starting to experience cash flow problems and decided to borrow funds from the TRCP fund raising account to tide it over, always expecting to repay the borrowings. At 31 December 2020 the fundraising balance was $29,386.

During 2021 the fund raising funds continued to be utilised to maintain cash flow and by the end of June there was only $510.30 in the fund raising account, which along with a further $1312.10 from sales, was eventually fully absorbed into the operating account prior to the liquidation.

Was all money fundraised through the Kid on the Rock Foundation and tagged for the preschool transferred to the preschool bank accounts

Early 2021 there were two fund raising activities held at Matamata Christian School by a newly appointed fund raising committee, with the purpose of sharing any profit between Matamata Christian School and Tower Road Christian School. The profit from the activities was a little under $2,000.00 so the Foundation boosted the amount to $4,000.00 and on the 9th of July 2021 paid the school and the preschool $2,000.00 each.

 Also during October 2021 a small fundraiser was held by the preschool with the orders and funds being processed through the Kid on the Rock Foundation bank account. The profit from this activity was banked into the Baker Tilly Trust fund in 3 amounts being $66.90 on the 10/11/2021, and $131.38 and $150.00 on the 14/11/2021. A total of $348.28.

Was any money transferred from Tower Road Christian Preschool bank accounts to the Kid on the Rock Foundation

No money was transferred from the TRCP bank accounts to the Kid on the Rock Foundation bank accounts.

Please note that the financial recording and reporting of both organisations are audited annually and any such transactions would be noticed immediately and explanations required.

Did the Directors or any other persons shred important documents

Neither Spence Reichardt or any other Director shredded any important documents. Following their appointment, due to not being able to leave Auckland the liquidator appointed a local agent to prepare and sell assets, dispose of any irrelevant documents and prepare the preschool property for either sale or handing back to the owner.

Mr Reichardt was asked on two occasions and in the presence of the agent to identify documents suitable for disposal due to age or not being relevant. On the second occasion Mr Reichardt was asked to also assist, along with two other persons arranged by the agent, in setting these documents aside for collection and disposal.

On one other occasion Mr Reichardt dropped in to check on the cleanup progress. At that time the agent and at least three other people including a Baptist Church Pastor were also onsite.

Shredding important documents is a serious offence. Anyone who actually witnessed the shredding of any evidence, official or relevant documents, or digital files or records by Directors, staff or any other individuals is asked to advise the liquidator Jared Booth urgently on 09 309 0463.

Summary of support by the Kid on the Rock Foundation to Matamata Christian School and Tower Road Christian Preschool - 2017 to 2021

2021

  • $3,704.00 - Matamata Christian School Sponsorships - 13 children from 6 families
  • $2,000.00 - Matamata Christian School
  • $2,000.00 - Tower Road Christian Preschool
2020
  • $4,797.00 - Matamata Christian School Sponsorships - 12 Children from 6 families
  • $3,000.00 - Peria Christian Education Inc building fund
  • $1,000.00 - Matamata Christian School
  • $12,500.00 - Tower Road Christian Preschool
2019
  • $3,707.00 - Matamata Christian School Sponsorships - 11 Children from 6 families
  • $2,000.00 - Tower Road Christian School Sponsorships - 2 Children from 2 families
  • $1,500.00 Peria Christian Education Inc building fund
  • $1,000.00 Matamata Christian School
2018
  • $3,400.00 Matamata Christian School Sponsorships
2017
  • $1,600.00 Matamata Christian School Sponsorships


 

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