Friday, March 28, 2014

Spring Things: Tuition, Fees, Re-Enrollment and Asking for Money

The title suggest that this will be quite an interesting post.  So please, read on.  These are all things which should be considered at this time of the year.  Here's some information about the way we do things that is important to you. 

Tuition and Fees
I put this topic first, because it will get a lot of attention. 

The nature of a private, Christian school is its private funding.  Many of the advantages that we enjoy from an educational and operational perspective are due to the freedom from regulation that we have because we do not receive tax dollars to provide educational services.  We are able to integrate the principles of Christian faith right into the curriculum and operations of the school, in fact, we can operate the school as a functioning Christian discipleship ministry.  And currently, as in the case of most private, Christian schools, we are dependent on the tuition money that parents pay to finance the operation. But not completely. 

The actual cost per student for the 2013-14 school year at PCS can be rounded off to about $7,250 for the year.  That's a little more than $1,300 per student more than the current highest tuition rate.  The additional funds come from a variety of sources, mostly donations and contributions, or fund-raising projects.  And that does not include the operations of the athletic or fine arts departments, which are self-sustaining.  The average cost per student in the public school system in our area ranges from $11,384 in the Butler school district, and $12,289 in Seneca Valley to $21,000 in the Pittsburgh school district. 

So what are you getting in exchange for your tuition?  You're getting a lot, compared to both the actual cost per student at PCS, and the cost per student in the public school system. 

1.  You are getting a distinctively Christian education which supports the morals and values your children are learning at church and from you at home.  I think this point, if there were no other benefits, makes it worth the cost. 

2.  You are getting a superior quality academic experience.  All of the indicators, including standardized tests and curriculum mapping, provide evidence that the quality of the education received at PCS is superior to most surrounding public school districts.  As the area's only fully accredited, PK-12th grade private, Christian school, what we offer is unique.  Accreditation is a sign of excellence.  Our standardized test scores show that our students perform above national norms, and our SAT average score for 2013-14 is 1650, which is significantly higher than the state and national averages. 

3.  You are getting the opportunity for your child to participate in extra curricular activities.  Many Christian schools our size are not able to offer this benefit.  Volunteer hours, fund raisers and contributions make it possible for us to offer six different athletic activities, and a fine arts program that includes band, vocal music and theater. 

4.  You are able to access resources for students who have special educational needs identified through testing and evaluation.  Christian families are not exempt from learning issues that affect a high percentage of the student population, but those families should not be excluded from having the choice to place their children in a school that supports their faith.  We are able to offer most of these services at no additional cost to families. 

5.  Your child is in an environment with a faculty that is highly trained, and wants to be here with them.  They are in a place where their future matters to their teachers, and where their teachers take the time to pray with them, and help them through difficult spots.  They are in a place where education is happening, and ministry is taking place. 

There are a few other things that you need to consider.  Our tuition rates are well below the national averages for private, Christian education.  Even here in Western Pennsylvania, a year of education at a private school with the same level of accreditation and quality offered here can run up to about 40% more than we charge.  Remember that fund raising and the donations we receive provide each student with a $1,300 "scholarship." 

Something else you need to consider.  Our entire staff serves God by serving you.  There is no one who works here who is paid what their colleagues in the public education system or in the business sector, receive for the same level and quality of work.  Our teacher salaries and benefits, which include the school paying for 80% of their health insurance, and a tuition remission for those with school aged children, average out to about a third of what the public education system pays in Pennsylvania and Ohio.  If we raised our teacher pay to the level of compensation that is considered "average" for private, Christian schools in the US, it would require an increase of more than $1,850 in tuition for each student enrolled in the school.  Consider that a "PCS Staff Scholarship." 

Our school practices good stewardship of its resources.  Our facilities are debt free.  Considering the cost of operations, we don't load up the budget with frills and perks for the buildings.  We have a practical, well-used building that is adequately heated and cooled, and which serves the purpose of accommodating the school and its educational, athletic and fine arts programs.  We share with our fellow Christian schools in that we are willing to host league events free of charge. 

And I think it needs to be pointed out that we are generous in terms of handing out financial assistance to qualified families.  We will provide over $125,000 from various sources to families in our school based on their need.  If Christian schools didn't do this, then the education they provide would be only for those wealthy enough to afford it.  By participating in several programs that provide scholarships and aid, we can increase the number of Christian families who are able to exercise their personal choices in educational providers for their children.

The God we worship, who gave us his son as our savior, is the God of everything, including business practices.  And he has his way of financing and providing for those who are called to minister in his name.  He does this through his people.  A former pastor used to say that the Lord owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and when he needs to provide for his work, he sells a few of the cattle.  That's why we ask you to help.  We don't know which people who are involved with the school, or who have been involved with it in the past, are the beneficiaries of God's most recent cattle sale.  But He does.  So we pray to determine if what we are asking for is consistent with God's plan, we put the word out about our need, and we wait expectantly for his provision. 

So consider these things as you look ahead to your children's educational future.  I'm convinced that you can't do any better by your children than having them in school here, and if that's where God wants you, he'll provide.  He already has. 

Is there something that God is leading you to provide? 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Is Spring Really Just Around the Corner?

You would not have known that spring was so close with yesterday's snow and cold temperatures.  Today, however, the sun is shining, the snow is melting and it is warming up.  And with that, we have some excitement going on around the school.

Archery

As this article is being written, the PCS Archery Team is competing in a state championship meet at Penn State University in State College.  This is our first year to field a team, and quite a few of our students decided they wanted to be involved, travel to the meet, and compete.  We are excited about the possibilities, since many of them did so well in the preliminary competitions that have been held.  Watching the practices in the gym is exciting, as the arrows fly and find their way to the targets.  At the beginning, there was excitement when an arrow hit the target.  Now, the excitement is more restrained, and reserved for the times when the arrows hit in the inner circles on the target. 

Alumni News

Mary McDonald, a 2012 graduate of Portersville Christian School, was named the Most Valuable Player for the Grove City College Wolverines Women's basketball team this season.  Mary, a sophomore, is also in her second year of basketball.  She set a number of records while playing for the Lady Warriors here at Portersville Christian School.  Congratulations, Mary! 

Jordan Harbison, a 2008 graduate of Portersville Christian School, set records at Geneva College, and was recognized for the number of three pointers he had successfully made during the past two seasons.  The Butler Eagle recently carried a story that featured Jordan.

50th Anniversary Celebration Banquet

The 50th Anniversary Celebration Banquet will be held on May 17 at the Robert M. Smith Student Union ballroom at Slippery Rock University.  The banquet will begin at 7:00 p.m.  If you are interested in sponsoring a table, please contact Chris Woods at cwoods@teksystems.com

We will have a great time that evening.  All alumni, former students, their families, and friends of PCS in Western Pennsylvania are invited. 

Accreditation Visit

A team representing ACSI will be present on our campus April 6-8 to recommend the re-accreditation of PCS.  Accreditation is an important consideration, especially for private, Christian schools.  It is a mark of excellence which verifies the classroom content, Christian atmosphere and program offerings of the school.  ACSI provides Christian peers from several other schools to visit the campus and make recommendations.  Teachers, board members and parents are invited to attend sessions and dialogue with the team. 

ACSI accreditation is rigorous enough to qualify schools to automatically receive Middle States Association accreditation.  This will be the third accreditation process for the school.

New Student Applications and Enrollment

We are anticipating a large number of new students applying for admission to PCS in the fall.  We already have a larger number of applications at this point than we have had in the past four years.  If you are interested in enrolling your child, please call the office and have them send you an application packet.  We are anticipating that some grade levels will reach capacity, so please apply as soon as possible.