Since the start of our community fundraising campaign (beginning of February 2021), we will report on the fate of the significant amount of money raised (€92536), the work done and the expenses incurred during this period. It is appropriate and timely to provide our individual or corporate partners and supporters with financial and activity information. But it is not only about the past, but also about our plans for the future. After all, plans are underway to convert the purpose-built property and a conceptual design for a modern school building and sports hall is also underway.
The years of pandemics, the energy price explosion artificially created on the pretext of war in our neighbourhood, have slowed down and are slowing down the implementation of our projects. Nevertheless, we are grateful above all to the Almighty, to our supporters (above all the current Hungarian government, the Transylvanian Reformed Church), that we have been able to come this far. We will occupy the premises after the reception of the deed of foundation of the Bartimeus Centre (November 2021). We have also moved our office here. With the help of architects and structural engineers, we surveyed the existing buildings, and it became clear that several of them would have to be demolished because they could not fulfil the functions for which they were intended. The main building (the building used as a hotel by the previous owner) will be the school’s boarding house, and the special school (which takes the name of teacher Lajos Katona) will be a new building. Why? On the one hand, because the existing buildings are not suitable for a school, or would need so much renovation with so many compromises, that we decided that in the long run it would be cheaper and better to build a new building without compromises. At the same time, in order to bring the start date of the school for the blind much earlier, we have “fragmented” the project, first preparing the boarding building to receive the children, and then, in time, building the new school. This decision was reached after a series of formal and informal discussions with our supporters, and was necessary because, while the refurbishment of the existing boarding house is “only” an investment of €750 000 (estimated value), the new school building, including the sports hall, will cost nearly €3 million. At the same time, there is no more time available, children with visual impairments are being ‘lost’, more and more of them are forced to use educational services that are not suitable for them. As the Lajos Katona School for the Blind will be a sub-institution of the Kis Gergely Baczkamadarasi Reformed College in Odorheiu Secuiesc, the necessary educational space will be provided by the Reformed College – at least initially.
Planning and approval for the conversion of the main building is currently underway. This process will be completed this year (optimistic forecasts), and the rehabilitation of the building could start early next year, with teaching starting in autumn 2024.
But before we talk about the plans, we report on the success of the Community fundraising. As you can see on our website (www.erdelyivakiskola.org), we have tried to be transparent about the amounts raised. The current report does the same. We would like to emphasise that the operating costs of our foundation are covered by BGA Zrt. and the Communitas Foundation, and that we have never used the funds raised to support the school for the blind as operating costs. And we are working hard to keep it that way.
The donation counter on our website shows 92536 euros (458 608 ron), a real amount. This is mostly donations from individuals, but there are also several companies and many anonymous donors. When we started the community fundraising, we were expecting an average of 5 ron/ donation, according to experts. In comparison, 344 donations have been received so far, so the average donation is not 5, but 1333 ron. Thank God and our supporters!
We have quantified the costs incurred since our community fundraising campaign.
We have reported several times that, for a long time, the Bartimeus Centre has been providing a week of education for visually impaired children each month, supervised by a teflon teacher. We are grateful for this. We have had to buy Braille typewriters, Braille displays, laptops and other special teaching aids for the pupils here. These cost a total of 59453 ron. The cost of organising and participating in the camps for children and young people during this period was 40828 ron. The cost of building and developing our website, the development of the bidding page was 29257 ron, advertising material and marketing costs, honoraria: 66230 ron. Repairs to the main building (e.g. replacement of plumbing), modernisation and rationalisation: 78964 ron. Expenses for professional trips and meetings: 35206 ron. Planning of the conversion of buildings, preliminary building – demolition permits amounting to 126445 ron so far. These costs have therefore been incurred since February 2021, a considerable amount, but we have tried to use them as efficiently as possible, rationalising and weighting the expenditure. For example, we often bought specialised equipment (unfortunately very expensive) from the manufacturer (for example from the USA), we requested and received duty and tax exemptions. In many cases, we have used and still use the help of the Hungarian National Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired in Hungary, because the Hungarian government compensates the cost of special equipment to a large extent. We have been prudent in terms of contractors, rationalising expenditure. We have tried to finance only the most urgent expenditure, all of which is an investment and in any case for the future of the school for the blind.
Engineers, designers and the licensing authority promise to complete the design-licensing process for the residential building this year. We believe this is the case, so it is up to us to raise the funds.
The improvements needed to run the building, which will provide accommodation for up to 60 people and service facilities:
– energy modernisation, which is economical to run and pays for itself in the short term by using green energy (solar panels, heat pumps, replacement of the electrical grid, external insulation of the building, replacement of radiators, replacement of windows and doors). The support for the green energy investment was offered by an enterprise in Odorheiu Secuiesc, thank you!
– safety upgrades and investments: making the staircase safe and barrier-free, installing a lift, fire safety upgrades, making the terraces of the building safe and installing them where necessary, building a fence.
– accessibility of the main building and courtyard: guide rails, audible signs, large lettering and lettering in Braille and Braille.
– creation of outdoor community and play areas in the courtyard, landscaping, green areas. The works mentioned above will cost in excess of €700,000.
As already mentioned, a new school building will be built to serve the education of blind and partially sighted children. And a multi-purpose sports hall will also be made available to the children, as visually impaired children need exercise and training even more than their sighted counterparts. The school will be a two-storey building with a net built-up area of 1710 m2 , two staircases (compulsory for fire safety reasons), a barrier-free lift, 8 flexible classrooms, bathrooms per level, corridors/shuttleways, administration, mechanical and operational spaces, a 70-seat function room, a medical room, a teachers’ room and offices (8 classrooms will be sufficient, only the lower classes are planned to be fully segregated).
The sports hall has a net area of 284 m2, with a corridor, accessible student changing rooms, teachers’ changing rooms, medical room, storage rooms, where the sports hall will be located, with a total area of 497 m2. The construction and equipping of the gym to serve visually impaired children, the creation of special developmental – therapeutic movement areas, the construction of sports fields (rattle ball field, rattle football field), the special sports floor are all cost-increasing items. The cost of the design, construction and approval of these two buildings – the school and the gym – is estimated at €3,000,000.
Other planned expenditure not related to property development:
– purchase of assistive devices: Braille displays and typewriters, Braille printers, electronic magnifiers, tactile displays and makers, multifunction printers, laptops, tablets: €150,000.
– furnishing and equipment for residential accommodation: 40 single beds, bed linen, 60 folding desks and chairs, classroom furniture, teaching aids: €60,000.
– industrial washing and drying machines, household washing machines for the disabled, a high-capacity gas cooker: €16,000.
– 2 minibuses for the transport of goods and passengers, which can also be used as school buses: € 80.000.
– operating costs, staff payments, taxes and duties for 1 year: €120,000.
The total investment – boarding house, new school and sports hall – i.e. building renovation, safety modifications, accessibility, new buildings for education and operational costs, is estimated at around €4 000 000. In most cases, these investments, teaching equipment, furniture, accessibility and safety modifications are statutory obligations, which are largely a prerequisite for obtaining a licence to operate. They are therefore absolutely necessary for the start-up of a special boarding school with Hungarian as the language of instruction.
We know and we believe that the Hungarians of Transylvania, can create such a nationally significant educational and cultural centre. We thank you very much for your selfless support so far and ask you to continue to support Hungarian children with visual impairment.
May God pay!