Call for expressions – APEEE IV building

Call for expressions of interest to participate in a working group on the feasibility of purchasing an APEEE IV building

Dear Parents,

First, the APEEE IV Board would like to thank the General Assembly for voting to allow us to explore the feasibility of purchasing the building adjacent to the school at Drève Ste Anne 78. The purpose of this communication is to explain why the Board believes it is important to explore this option, to inform you of the steps that we want to take next, and to launch a call for volunteers interested in participating in a working group in January-February 2019 to examine the feasibility of purchasing an APEEE IV building (Feasibility study for the purchase of APEEE IV building).

Our motivation

While there is nothing from a statutory or legal point of view which would prevent the Board from making the decision to buy a fixed asset, it had unanimously decided to put the question to the General Assembly earlier this month. The Board’s main motivation for assessing the feasibility of purchasing the above-mentioned building is to determine whether doing so would ensure as well as strengthen in the coming years the quality and quantity of services and activities that we parents consider necessary for our children.
In the past few days, many of you may have received communications from several EU Syndicates highlighting serious overcrowding problems at all of the European schools in Brussels, a situation most of us are now all too familiar with. This endemic overcrowding has arisen because, although student numbers have grown steadily year after year, the Office of the Secretary General for the European Schools and the Belgian Government, which is responsible for providing EU school buildings, have continuously failed to plan for this growth. A fifth European School was deemed necessary by 2017, according to the Secretary General’s own forecast, yet the construction of a new European school has only recently received approval. It will be built at the old NATO site and will not be open until 2024 at the earliest.

Consistent overcrowding at the European schools has not only begun to pose a challenge to their ability to educate our children to the greatest extent possible, but it will also test the schools’ and the APEEEs’ ability to provide adequate after-school facilities and care as well as extra-curricular activities in the future.
Faced with this worrisome scenario, the Board believes that there is a real need to think more strategically about the alternatives available to us to better secure our ability to serve the needs of our children moving forward. In this case, the fact that the building in question that is for sale is adjacent to the School seems particularly appealing, since this would allow the APEEE to have a continued physical presence at the school with direct access to the school premises.

The financial picture and plan in brief

It is the aim of the Board to be as transparent as possible while exploring options that will best ensure the continued quality and quantity of APEEE services and activities for our children now and in the future. As part of the Board’s mission to serve, it is of course critical that APEEE IV reserves are used according to the principles of sound financial management.
Currently, we have approximately 1.4 million EUR in the APEEE IV bank accounts. Having such reserves is a best accounting practice to fulfill our liabilities to providers and to pay our staff according to the Belgian rules in the unlikely case that APEEE IV would have to dissolve. Additional information and figures regarding management of the APEEE IV reserves can be found in the Annual Reports that the Board submits to the General Assembly each year.

The buying of an asset such as the building in question would ensure that APEEE IV reserves are more secured and not at risk of devaluating as they currently are. Indeed, as has happened in the past in similar organizations, reserves of this amount “left” in the bank can be viewed as rather risky, since any board could at any time make decisions that deplete these reserves without necessarily considering how this might affect future growth opportunities for the APEEE.

Our plan now is to assess the potential positive and negative outcomes, financial and otherwise, of the possible purchase of the building in question. Would such a purchase provide significant value added and be a good way to leverage APEEE IV’s reserves? In particular, we shall explore what the future needs of the APEEE will likely be in terms of extra-curricular and after-school child care services as well as the implications for the APEEE of trying to accommodate for these needs proactively. One of the key advantages again is that the current building on sale is adjacent to the school. This fact only came to the Board’s attention a few months ago, and is undoubtedly one of the building’s most appealing aspects. The fact that the building is next to the school means that we could utilize the building to meet the school’s growing/changing needs in addition to those of the APEEE, assuming, of course, that security requirements could be adequately met.

Board Members involved in the Feasibility Study

Graziella Rizza – Overall coordination
Penelope Vlandas – Assessment of extra curricula activities and after child service
Tobias Stricker – Provide inputs to needs required for possible additional canteen services for maternelle
Iulian Vasile – Analyse the security requirements for the opening of the premises with the school
Lucas Dussart Ilies – Support in the analysis and back-up of overall coordination

The APEEE IV Director will have the role of supporting the work process and following up on the proposed timetable. The Director shall also support Graziella Rizza in the overall coordination of tasks.
The Board has already received expressions of interest from two architects regarding the analysis of potential construction-related issues as well as one parent regarding potential administrative issues.

What kind of additional profiles do we need to complete the working group?
Ideally, we could use the help of another 8 parents with expertise in the areas listed below:
• Up to 2 additional persons with previous experience in the security field to work with Board Member Lulian.
• Up to 2 additional persons whose expertise the group could draw on regarding the financial part of the feasibility study. Previous experience in preparing business plans would be particularly helpful.
• Up to 2 additional persons who could contribute to an assessment of our needs in the areas of extra-curricular activities and after-school child care services.
• Up to 2 additional persons with previous experience in building and construction who could work together with the architects.

When is the deadline for expressions of interest and what information should you provide?
All expressions of interest should be sent by Wednesday, 9 January to:

In your expression of interest, we ask that you please supply the following information:
• First name and Surname
• Section and class of your children
• Which area you want to contribute to
• A brief summary of your previous experience in that area
• Your contact information (telephone number + e-mail)

What is the timetable in this case?

Since the building in question is currently available to all prospective buyers, there is some urgency in this case, particularly if the Feasibility Working Group should recommend that the Board move to purchase it. In order to maximize our window of opportunity and make the most of the time and energy of all of those currently and soon to be involved, we the Board feel that it is important to move quite quickly on this. We thus plan to have the Feasibility Working Group in place by mid-January 2019 and concluded again one month later by mid-February 2019.

Below you will find the proposed meeting schedule for the group. Please note that these dates and times may be adjusted as needed by the group. In addition to the group meetings, several visits to the building site will also be necessary. These visits will take place during the period 14 January – 15 February as well.

Breydel meeting room

Monday 14 January – 12:30 – 14:00 – Room 4/200
Friday 25 January – 12:30 – 14:00 – Room 4/200
Monday 4 February – 12:30 – 14:00 – Room 4/200
Friday 15 February – 12:30 – 14:00 – Room 4/200

The best scenario would be to come up with a proposal to submit to the Board by the end of February 2019. Please note that the Board will meet on 07 March 2019, so this will serve as the final ending date for a presentation of the group feasibility study.

Should it be the recommendation of the Feasibility Working Group that the Board attempt to purchase the building, and the Board agrees with this recommendation, we will publish the group’s findings on our website with a subsequent call for a public meeting by mid-March at the latest, in the hope that the building is still available. Should the Working Group recommend against such a purchase, the Board will also publish the group’s findings and call for a public meeting to discuss these findings and their implications for APEEE IV.

Key points to be addressed

Estimated needs in terms of space (e.g. after-school child care, extra-curricular activities, etc.). Discussion of current and future space needs and whether the purchase of the building is the best way to meet those needs. The Working Group will also examine various additional options that could resolve the increasing lack of space.

Technical works required (e.g. what would be the estimated building costs, what would the purchase entail in terms of renovations, etc.) It is not unlikely that the group’s architects might also recommend consulting a construction company to obtain a building estimate.

Analysis of fixed maintenance costs (e.g. electricity, water, maintenance costs, etc.)

Security aspects (e.g. possible integration of the building within school perimeters, etc.) Close cooperation with the school would be important, but more so cooperation with OIB and with the Security Unit of the Commission. Along these lines, what would it entail in terms of security to connect the building physically to the school and what are the requirements that would need to be met?

Feasibility study based on the analysis of the previous four points. This would entail the analysis of different alternatives (i.e. financial implications for the APEEE in the case of a request for a loan, the need for sufficient cash flows to ensure timely payment of current running costs, etc.)

We would like to conclude this message and Call for expressions of interest by thanking in advance all of the parents that will be joining in this adventure, whatever its outcome! We the Board are very excited about what we can learn by going through this process together with you.​

Kristin Dijkstra
President APEEE Brussels IV, on behalf of the administrative Board