Part 2 of a five-part series about the Academy’s strategic plan

The saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” is most accurately attributed to the cultures of Africa.  It became famous in our nation during the 1990s.

I subscribe to its wisdom.  As parents of three children, my wife and I accepted support readily from our parents and extended family members.  Of course, we reciprocated.  That’s how families work.

But we lived hours from our immediate families in northeastern Pennsylvania, and in the absence of our own families much of the time, we created meaningful and loving relationships with friends in upstate New York.  In short, our community in Rochester became our village.

What does this have to do with our plans for the Academy “village” during the next three years?

First, we want to restore our student enrollment (and therefore the size of our school community) to its size prior to the recession of 2008.  Thankfully, that trend is happening and our enrollment is increasing.  It needs to grow more to support the future learning opportunities we’ve envisioned for your students, and we are confident that this growth will continue to happen.

It’s by restoring our student population to pre-2008 levels that we plan to reach our goal of increasing the aggregate revenue we collect from tuition payments.  Some families have wondered if this goal means we intend to increase tuition by 6 to 8 percent annually.  The answer is no.  Enrolling more students will accomplish that.  During the last 10 years, our Board of Trustees has raised tuition annually by a shade over 3 percent.  That’s much less than typical increases in the cost of food, travel, certain kinds of insurance, and other daily costs of living.

I think we’re rather transparent that we are very good stewards of our school finances.  It’s not a secret that we are fiscally conservative.  We don’t spend your tuition dollars foolishly.  In comparison to other schools, we’ve kept our overhead costs to a minimum, and pour the maximum of every dollar into providing the best educational experience and outcomes for your student.

That said, being part of an independent school “village” means that we ask every family to “invest” what they can in time, talent, and treasure — beyond their tuition payments — to support our school.  Like a family, like a village, we expect everyone will want to contribute on behalf of everyone else.  Because the cost of our tuition does not equal the cost of our operations, non-tuition contributions from families effectively support everyone in the Academy “village.”

And others are pitching in with their non-tuition support.  Their appreciation for their Academy experience leads alumni and their parents to continue to provide for our school.  Similarly, local foundations and businesses support the Academy.  They appreciate the added value Harrisburg Academy provides to our metropolitan region… and that support, alone, equals $550,000 annually!  Additionally, the historic generosity of nearly 50 families who invested in the Academy’s endowment annually supplies another $300,000 available to our school operations.

Our goal is to increase that sum by another $100,000 within three years.  At the same time, we are doing our best to keep our tuition increases as low as possible and asking “extended members” of the Academy village to increase their share.  And they are responding!

Independent schools remain one of the best examples of the strength of “community” in our 21st century world because independent school families understand the veracity of “the village” axiom.  We have a shining example of true community here at Harrisburg Academy, too, and I invite you to continue and if possible even deepen, your commitment to it.