A constant challenge for a small independent school is enrolling enough students to cover the school’s operational costs. The Gregory School enrolled 263 students at the beginning of the year spanning all eight grades.
Many people assume the school is overspending, but the school has balanced its budget and is not currently overspending.
TGS tuition begins with $9,200 per year for the fifth grade, and it continues to cost more each year after that. Sixth grade tuition is $12,750, while seventh and eighth grade is $15,575. Upper School (grades 9-12) tuition is $16,675.
This year’s total revenue will be roughly $4.7 million from tuition, donations, and the school’s endowment. The Gregory School also collects rental fees from the neighboring elementary school Castlehill’s land and a church on Sunday.
Currently as of September 30, 2014, there is $2,157,500 in the school’s endowment fund. The Gregory School’s new Director of Finance and Operations Merle Henkel said, “The endowment is a form of savings account that has money set aside which includes donations or contributions for the endowment.” Every year about 4-6 percent is taken out from the total balance. In this case, roughly 100,000 dollars are taken out each year for school expenses.
Henkel said, “The expectation with endowments is that the balance will grow over time at a rate greater than 4-6%. In any given year, the balance may fall or increase due to market fluctuations in the investment markets. In other years, it increases in value due to increases in the value of the stocks/investments held. A second way it grows is additional contributions.”
A third of tuition dollars fund financial aid for TGS students. However, with the state tax credit program, half of the third given for financial aid comes back to the school. This means that the net tuition is roughly 82% of the stated tuition after the stated tax return.
Employee salaries/benefits make up sixty percent of the school’s expenses. However, the teachers have only gotten one pay raise in the last five years. Henkel said, “I know there were no pay raises last year, but I don’t know how far back it goes. We have to establish getting back to where we were. The enrollment is going down, and that’s the reason everybody shares that.”
“I do know that ten years ago the enrollment was up, and I think at one point close to 400 students,” said Henkel. “Naturally, when you have that many students, your expenses are higher and then when enrollment started going down, I do think there were some years that operated under budget,” meaning the school spent more money than it made.
Money has been tight recently at The Gregory School due to falling enrollment. Dr. Julie Sherrill, Head of School, said, “Our friendly amount of students is 300.” Since the school year began, the number of students grew to roughly 272. Adding around 30 more tuition-paying students wouldn’t raise too many costs, but would help increase the total revenue.
Despite the tight budget, the school is not currently overspending and has balanced its annual balance.
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