GSUSA has been in the media quite a bit lately, and unfortunately, some of the press has not been positive. This is never helpful for us. Some of the reports have focused on the staff cuts at GSUSA.
Once the realignment was complete across the United States, it became critical to determine whether the staff at GSUSA is appropriately aligned to serve 112 councils, which is the current number of high-capacity councils vs. 330 councils, which is the number in existence seven years ago.
With GSSA's realignment, we serve our girls with fewer staff than one of the previous legacy councils had. That is good news that translates more funding directly for girls programs and needs. A consulting firm that specializes in this type of work managed GSUSA's staff realignment, which was called Customer Focus Forward. Part of their assignment was to survey members across the U.S. to determine what services high- capacity councils needs vs. what council needs were seven years ago. I know CEO Anna Maria Chavez, and she is trying to move GSUSA forward to better serve girls.
Another focus of media attention is the sale of camp properties across the U.S. to fund the GSUSA retirement plan. Some of you might have received e-mail recently from GSUSA asking you to contact your Congressional representative about this. As with many retirement plans, the in which GSSA participates was administered by GSUSA. The plan was well funded for many years. Then, as the economy became volatile, like many plans in the U.S., it became underfunded. We are required to keep the plan fully funded, which drains precious resources in difficult economic times. I have spoken with some of our Congressional staff about this, but if you know them, I would encourage you to also add your voice to this conversation. We are not asking to have a reprieve from our financial obligations, but would appreciate some budget relief on the fully funded part of the issue for a span of time.
A part of the media attention is also focused on selling camp properties at other Girl Scout councils. When councils realigned, some had many more camps than they could handle financially. We are fortunate and have four camp properties that are at comfortable distances from one another to serve our constituents. We are not planning to sell any properties at this time. In fact, we have a master plan for property development that we are working on. However, two of our camps are on lease,s and although we have renegotiated both leases, there are no guarantees when you operate leased properties.
Hopefully, the media will take a long hard look at all the good Girl Scouts produces. But one of my friends, who is a national correspondent for a news station reminds me, good news doesn't sell.