Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Best Attended Event of the School Year

Re-enrollment letters went out prior to spring break, which means that you are now most likely aware that the board has approved a modest, 5% increase in tuition for the 2012-13 school year.  Enrollment, application fees and testing fees remain the same.  The decision to increase tuition at a Christian school is never an easy one.  The impact any increase will have on families is always a primary consideration, as it has been for our board.

It's been thirty years since I first signed a contract to teach at Broadway Baptist School on Houston's East side.  The school served a working class community, and managed to provide a high quality, Christ-centered education to 550 students who paid an average of $1,600 a year in tuition and fees.  The school was debt free, shared an older but efficiently organized facility with a church, utilized a lot of volunteers, and paid its teachers and staff salaries that were lower than first year teachers straight out of college made in the public school system.  We managed by sharing rent, carpooling, working part-time second jobs, stretching out coaching stipends and depending on the grace of God.  And that worked.  We provided an academically excellent education in a Christ-centered environment to the students of the families who also made sacrifices to send them our way.

In that regard, though the dollar amounts have become larger, not much has changed.  The fact of the matter is that what we accomplish at Portersville Christian School is disproportionately larger than the financial resources required to pay the bills.

Though we are not perfect, by any means, our faculty and staff works hard to provide a Christ-centered atmosphere that supports what parents are teaching their children at home.  We think of what we are doing as a discipleship ministry, encouraging our students to grow in their faith and listen for God's voice, calling them to serve Jesus by serving others.  We provide many opportunities for students to have their faith challenged and stretched so that they will grow into the mature servants of Jesus that God desires them to be in whatever occupation they choose.

The academic atmosphere at Portersville Christian School also goes well beyond the financial investment, as our students have distinguished themselves as being among the top achievers in the region.  Our SAT and Stanford scores, which are well above local, state and national averages, are testimonies of student accomplishment, and of the efforts of our faculty, who work for a salary and benefits well below the level of their public school counterparts.  And things haven't changed all that much in that many of them work second jobs, or share apartments, or live at home with their parents, drive old cars, and do a lot of other things to stretch their salaries and make it possible for them to continue to work here. That's a sacrifice they make willingly because they understand the importance of a Christ-centered education to the future.

We know, too, that we have many families who make sacrifices to send their children here.  That's why this Christian school, as well as many others, works so well.  We really are depending on the grace of God to work things out.  It wouldn't happen any other way.

And so, as we approach the coming year, the board has approved a budget that calls for an increase of 5% in tuition.  Among the other Christian schools in our area, that is a modest increase, and will keep PCS among the least expensive in terms of cost, and among the most generous in terms of financial aid.  The uncertainties of a struggling economy, and the effects of a long recession have created a gap that, in spite of the increase in tuition, still exists in the budget.  As a result, the school will have to step out on faith and trust that God will provide the difference that is needed.  We know that will be the case with many of our families as well.  I believe that God will bless both the financial assistance that is provided to make it possible for families to enjoy this blessing, and the sacrifices made by people to make sure that this ministry continues to be available.

Our response to that is a call to prayer.  On Tuesday, April 17, at 7:00 p.m. in the gym, those who come will be asked to participate in a prayer meeting asking God to meet the financial needs of the school, and of each family who feels his leadership to send their children here.  This will be part of the all-school annual meeting, and it should be the best attended event of the school year.  Please come and join us as we gather together and give this matter to the Lord.