Please know I write this with a bit of trepidation, as well as with great sensitivity because let’s face it… financial issues are tough to discuss. We thought a post explaining the reasoning behind VCS’s tuition range would be helpful, especially since this is an issue that could be the topic of an entire information meeting, not just another item in a list of other logistics. This will be followed soon by a few blog posts that either address some questions we’ve received, or other pieces of school plans or culture that we want to highlight.
First of all, VCS’s budget and use of its money will always be transparent. The board is truly seeking to stay above reproach in this area – both to keep ourselves accountable, and to instill confidence in the VCS families. We recognize that anything beyond a free public education requires an investment, sacrifice, and hard financial choices for each family. This means that other areas of life may take a cut in order to pay for your child’s tuition, and we don’t take that lightly. We are honored you would consider trusting VCS with that investment, and we never want families to doubt where their tuition money has gone.
We also recognize that in the collaborative model, families must have a parent home two days a week (or make other arrangements such as a tutor). This translates to being comprised of many one-income families (though not necessarily all families would fit that description!). We get it. We are right there with you. Even as I write this, I am thinking through ways to help generate a little more income to put toward our family’s tuition at VCS, and also praying for God to provide in unexpected ways so that we can in turn provide this education for our children. So we, alongside you, are “putting our money where our mouth is” – making sacrifices in other areas in order to ensure we can make this work for our families (worth noting here that board members’ children will not receive a discount of any sort). We really believe it is worth the investment. If you feel this model is right for your family, will you please join us in seeking Him for provision, before writing it off as out of the budget?
You meet two days a week - why aren’t you 40% of local private schools?
We announced a range we are considering at the interest meeting, but are still weighing that decision heavily, which is why I won't include it in print here. We took a good look at tuition at surrounding schools, as well as at other collaborative model schools such as Trinity in Houston and Covenant School in Greensboro. Below I will outline a few of those tuitions. I have left names off simply because I have not asked these schools’ permission, but please know these are actual numbers from schools in our area:
- Full 5-day Private School 1: $4500/year
- Full 5-day Private School 2: $4990/year
- Full 5-day Private School 3: $5500/year
- Full 5-day Private School 4: $6210/year
- “Popular Local Preschool:” 6 hours/week: $1440, 9 hours/week: $1935, 12 hours/week: $2430, 15 hours/week: $2925
- Trinity Classical School – Houston: $3700/year
- The Covenant School – Greensboro: $3600/year
While we realize that VCS will meet on campus about 40% of the time per week that full-day private schools do, we cannot emphasize enough that this is not a part time school. VCS will provide all of the curriculum, support, grading, accountability, community, and reporting – just like a full time school would. We simply get the joy and flexibility of having our children home three days of the week as we take on more of a facilitator role at home. As founders, that is invaluable to us, and more than likely you are reading this because you are intrigued by the blended approach. With that in mind, we ask that you truly consider it a full week of school when weighing the costs against other private schools in the area. I will also mention that many families don’t think twice about paying $3,000/year for 15 hours a week at preschool. That is a valuable, wonderful experience for young children, but we would argue that the rich and full experience provided by a classical, collaborative school is worth at least a comparable price tag to that. Please note that at this point, we are considering a yearly tuition below our two mentor schools, in hopes that more families in our area are able to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.
So what’s tuition going toward?
Our number one priority is to pay teachers well – a school is only as good as its teachers, and in order to attract the best, especially since we do not have full-time positions, we want to pay them what they are worth. While teachers will only teach in the classroom two days a week, they are expected to be available for parent questions on the home days, as well as organize lessons prior to the school week so that parents can get on the same page. That is a lot to ask! We plan to hold our teachers to a high standard, but also want them to feel valued, because they are our number one asset.
The second portion of money will go toward rent/custodial fees at our building. Choosing a building has many variables including space available and student safety. Since we have not finalized a location yet (though we do have several viable, available options), we don’t yet know how much rent will be, which will obviously play a large role in our monthly budget.
The third portion of money will go toward insurance (based on enrollment and number of teachers) and “other” expenses such as association fees, technology, conference attendance for teachers, etc. We would also love to begin saving toward hiring a head of school in the next few years, as well as establishing a fund for financial assistance.
Speaking of - what about financial assistance or discounts?
In a perfect world no family would be turned away because of finances. We are striving to establish a need-based tuition assistance fund, and are praying God will provide donors and/or other means to that end. We are also considering other types of discounts, though we continue to pray about the level of discount that might be offered.
While this was long, I do hope it helped to explain more of our reasoning and heart behind the VCS tuition. To summarize, anything worthwhile is going to require an investment and sacrifice, and we urge you to pray for God’s provision for the school, as well as for your individual family if He’s calling you to VCS.