What is the school association and why is it important?
German foreign schools that are approved by the German Kultusministerkonferenz (Conference of ministers of education) receive significant support from the Federal Republic of Germany. German foreign schools are private schools, which, unlike the schools in Germany, are not managed under the public administration. Most of the German foreign schools are comprised of registered associations based on the laws of the host country. This is the same with the International German School of Brussels. The school is essentially regarded an “object” of the German School Association in Brussels (hereinafter: “school association”). It was established in 1951 as a non-profit organization per the Belgium Law (in Dutch: “verenigin zonder winstoogmerk” or in French: “association sans but lucrative” / “asbl”). The school association is the school’s sponsor. The school is financed through school fees and support from the federal government. The school’s contracts are concluded on behalf of the association.
Who can become a member of the school association? How can one apply?
According to the statutes of the school association, anyone who has reached the age of 18 years can be a member. Membership is open to all parents as well as interested people outside the school community. Teachers, employees, and pupils can become sponsoring members but without a right to vote. Parents’ membership in the school association is expressly desired in the interests of a broad legitimation of the school’s decisions. Application for membership in the school association takes place automatically when a parent registers their child (unless the parent explicitly requests exclusion in the application). The decision whether to approve or reject the application lies with the board of directors of the school.
How is the school association structured and how does it operate?
The school association has two bodies: the general assembly and the administrative board.
The general assembly is tasked with appointing (and dismissing) members of the administrative board as well as auditors, approving annual budgets and financial statements as well as deciding on amendments to the statutes of the school association. The general assembly also decides on the amount of school fees as part of the annual budget. The general assembly is convened and chaired by the chair of the administrative board. The statutes of the school association stipulate that there should be two general assemblies every year. During the general assembly in autumn, the annual financial statements for the past financial year are submitted for approval by the school association. In the second general assembly at the end of the school year, the key figures of the coming budget are discussed and resolved.
Members of the administrative board are elected every two years in the general assembly. The statutes stipulate that at least three members of the administrative board must be parents of pupils attending the school. In addition, at least three members of the administrative board should be members of the association who currently do not (or no longer) have children attending the school. This regulation ensures continuity and sustainability of the operations of the administrative board and hence of the association. All elected members of the administrative board are on an honorary basis. Teachers, employees, and pupils cannot be elected as members. Members of the parents’ council must resign from the advisory council when elected to the administrative board.
In addition to having good knowledge of what’s going on in the school, the school association’s management ensures a high level of loyalty in the cooperation with other school boards as well as trustful cooperation with the relevant school management bodies in Germany. It sees to it that financial obligations of the school association, especially in the case of high investments and recruitment of teachers, are planned and secured in the long term irrespective of the change of parents.
The administrative board usually consists of ten members. On average, the board meets once per month as stipulated in its rules of procedure. The meetings are also attended by a representative of the German embassy in an advisory capacity, the school management, the personnel representative, the parents’ council, and a representative of the pupils.
The advisory board may set up expert committees for targeted and prompt handling of complex issues or for drafting of recommendations. The following committees have currently been set up:
· staff committee
· social committee
· construction committee
· IT committee
Cooperation between the school association and the school administration bodies in Germany
As a recognized German foreign school, the school association of the International German School of Brussels receives financial and personnel support from the Federal Republic of Germany. Although the school is a private school, it is integrated into the German school administration, i.e. the Kultusministerkonferenz (conference of ministers of education), the Federal Administrative Office with the Central Office for Foreign Education, and the Federal Foreign Office. This requires precise guidelines for the school curriculum as well as in regard to the school leaving examinations. Decisions affecting the scope and nature of the support from the Federal Republic of Germany are made in cooperation with the ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany.
How is the school association financed as the school’s sponsor?
The International German School of Brussels, which is sponsored by the school association, is a German foreign school subsidized by Germany and recognized as a private school by the Kultusministerkonferenz. The Federal Republic of Germany contributes directly to the school budget through financial and personnel support granted by the Federal Foreign Office in cooperation with the Center for Foreign Education. Since 2013, this has been based on the Foreign School Law that grants approved German foreign schools a right to this support and hence allows them planning certainty. The bilingual pre-school is not subsidized. It is funded by the association with approximately 7% of the income. The school premises and buildings are a property of the Federal Republic of Germany. They are used by the school free of charge based on the utilization agreement between the school association and the Federal Government. The planned new school buildings will be financed by the Federal Government and carried out by the Munich I State Construction Office on behalf of the government. Financing of the bilingual pre-school’s building is the responsibility of the school association.
In terms of personnel support, the Federal Republic of Germany also provides part of the staff by sending workers who are posted on a temporary basis and paid by the state. Among them are foreign teaching staff, including the headmaster. A significant part of the school budget is financed through school fees. The school fees can be reduced on request in cases of hardship.
The International German School of Brussels is grateful for donations that are used to realize specific projects such as the planned new construction. Donations with a donation receipt can be made through the account of the Freundeskreis Deutscher Auslandsschulen e.V. (IBAN: DE93 1004 0000 0267 2830 00, BIC: COBADEFFXXX, Commerzbank AG Berlin, intended use: German School Brussels). Donations by private individuals or companies taxable in Belgium can be made on a tax-deductible basis through project accounts at the Belgian "König-Baudouin-Stiftung / Fondation Roi Baudouin".