American International School ends academic year prematurely due to budget shortfall

By Le Nguyen   April 13, 2024 | 11:22 pm PT
American International School ends academic year prematurely due to budget shortfall
AISVN students in 2022. Photo by AISVN
The American International School Vietnam (AISVN) will conclude its academic year prematurely at the end of April, rather than mid-May, due to a budget shortfall, now standing at approximately VND4 billion (US$160,000).

The HCMC Department of Education and Training announced in an open letter to teachers and staff on Saturday, following notifications from some teachers to parents about their intent to strike next week due to delayed salary payments.

A department leader reported that the AISVN principal has declared the academic year will conclude on April 26. Despite this, Grade 12 students will continue to receive support from teachers for their revision and preparation for the International Baccalaureate (IB) exams, scheduled before May 17.

The International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) has consented to this arrangement, considering the extent of academic content already covered and the school's forthcoming schedule.

"The academic year concludes earlier than anticipated, yet the curriculum is unaffected, with the duration reduced by merely half a month," mentioned the department leader.

The IBO previously informed VnExpress of its awareness of AISVN's challenges, offering support and collaboration with various stakeholders to devise solutions. The organization emphasized the importance of balancing the students' health and educational requirements with the resolution of teachers' grievances.

The IBO specifies that for students to earn an IB certificate, they must pass six exams across different subjects and levels, among other criteria. This certification allows students to apply to universities in the U.S. and globally.

Furthermore, the department highlighted its oversight role in the letter, mandating the school's continued operation through the academic year's end and the fulfillment of essential needs for teachers and staff.

The gate of AISVN on March 19, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Le Nguyen

The gate of AISVN on March 19, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Le Nguyen

The department further noted that while salary payments are crucial and a priority, the decision on these payments lies not with the department but relies on contributions from parents. Given the current financial standing, the school is limited to advancing only a portion of the March salaries and rental payments for foreign teachers.

"We hope that through our efforts, teachers will be encouraged to work through to the academic year's end. Should the account's balance improve, we will urge the school to distribute these funds to the teachers," the department elaborated.

Currently, nearly 750 out of more than 1,000 parents have contributed money to AISVN. However, many parents divided the amount and have only transferred a part of it. By Friday, the school’s account had more than VND30 billion, while it requires VND125 billion to maintain operation and direct teaching until the end of the year.

After paying expenses like buses, electricity and water, paying off January and February salaries and advancing salaries and housing in March for foreign teachers, the school only has VND4 billion left.

AISVN, established in 2006, provides curriculums under the IB program.

The school's tuition is VND280-350 million a year for kindergarteners, VND450-500 million a year for primary school levels, and VND600-725 million for middle and high school levels. The school has around 130 foreign teachers, 26 Vietnamese teachers and over 100 other employees.

On March 18, the majority of the school's teachers went on strike in protest of delayed salary payments, preventing all students from attending classes.

On March 30, Nguyen Thi Ut Em, the owner of AISVN, reached out to parents, seeking an additional VND125 billion to ensure teachers' salaries are paid and to maintain school operations until the academic year concludes in June.

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