Over the past several months, I (Craig) have had multiple meetings with my Administrative Team and our Veritas Board concerning income, expenses, and next year's tuition rates. I've also had a few parents ask me when we're going to post our rates for next year.
I've only got one answer: when we're sure they're right.
Back in October, as we began budgeting for next school year, I happened to mention via email our process to my former Head of School, Jim Marsh, at Westminster Christian Academy, a college prep Christian school of 900 students in St. Louis. A long-time administrator, Jim is both a hero and a mentor in my role as Head of School (because of our shared titles, he calls me his "peer," which is more than humorous – I'm no Jim Marsh). He wrote:
"The tuition/true cost of education issue is difficult to get one's head around. There are those (Bruce Lockerbie and Paideia and organizations like Independent School Management) who would say to determine what it costs to provide excellence in fulfilling your mission and set the tuition at that cost. Then, raise money to provide tuition relief for those who cannot afford the tuition.
However, the value proposition is of critical importance in an age when parents are asking the question: 'Is it worth it? Is it worth the financial sacrifice?' The brutal fact is that it costs money to provide an excellent Christian education, but establishing a tuition level at that per student cost might be more than the market will bear. So, we look around and assess the financial condition of our families and determine what the price point should be."
Jim's balanced perspective describes exactly where we are at Veritas Classical Academy. Over the past month-and-a-half, my Administrative Team (all of whom are Veritas parents) have tried to get a better handle on what it costs "to provide an exceptional classical Christian education to the Oklahoma City metro." It's been hard work, but I'm proud of the way our team has drilled down to depths of detail we've not operationally been at before.
At the same time (and with counsel from our Board, all of whom are also Veritas parents), we've wrestled with the realities of these costs and asked ourselves what seems reasonable to expect tuition to cover and what should we plan to cover through more intentional fundraising. In doing this, we're seeking God to lead us to the right numbers, and to provide for them as well.
We think we're almost there…but not yet. Rest assured, tuition rates are coming (and soon), but as Head of School, I want to make sure they're right (and not just out). We don't want to overcharge our families; at the same time, we don't want to be the best blended model school in Oklahoma to go out of business.