Slight increase in tuition for independent schools next year in 2017-2018

For independent schools on the Northside, tuition is rising. However, it’s not by much.

The increases for the 2017-18 school year range from $50 to nearly $700.

Schools are saying the main reason for tuition increases are personnel and teacher salaries.

Jackson Academy’s tuition for the current year ranges from $5,340 for K3 students in the three-day program to $14,040 for students in ninth through 12th-grade.

Next year’s tuition increase is approximately 3.3 percent for the youngest students and 4.7 percent for the oldest.

“Teachers’ salaries have the greatest impact on school budgets, with approximately 72 percent of the school’s budget in faculty and staff salaries,” said Angie Antici, vice president for finance and operations. “Competitive salaries help Jackson Academy attract and retain the best possible personnel, and to do that, we must be competitive in providing medical insurance, retirement, and modest raises as well.”

Antici said other factors that influence JA’s tuition each year are program enhancements in technology, laboratories and curriculum. “Educational institutions also must factor in cost increases of goods and services, such as utilities, food costs, supplies, and health care benefits, which continue to rise.

“The board has minimized tuition increases to the lowest levels possible during the last five years, keeping increases below the previous five years when the school averaged a 5.18 percent increase,” she said. “The board of trustees (is) constantly evaluating expenses and working to be good stewards of resources while also ensuring a high-quality academic experience for JA students and families.”

 

St. Andrew’s tuition for all of its students is rising by 3.9 percent for the 2017-2018 academic year. Tuition ranges from $7,020 for students in pre-kindergarten for a half day to $17,130 for students in ninth through 12th-grade.

Next year, tuition will range from $7,300 to $17,800.

“We had a slight increase this year as we did last year, but increases in both years have been at our lowest levels since the early ’90s,” said Kevin Lewis, associated head of school. “Increases for both years have gone to support salary increases for faculty, coverage of overhead expenses and the costs of operating our new athletic and recreation center on the north campus.”

Additional costs were also absorbed this year for the new Early Childhood Center located at the Jackson campus.

The school works to keep tuition increases low through saving money on overhead expenses and managing costs.

“For example, we are in the process of replacing our lighting with LED lighting which will bring significant savings to our utilities expense in the future,” said Lewis.

Salaries and benefits for faculty and staff make up the biggest increase in expenses.

 

Madison-Ridgeland Academy is seeing a varying percent increase in tuition next year. For K3 students, tuition will rise by 4.2 percent, from $5,680 for the current year to $5,920 for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Students in K4 and K5 currently have tuition of $6,900 and will have tuition of $7,140 next year, a 3.4 percent increase.

First through fifth-grade students currently have a tuition of $9,000 and will have a tuition of $9,240 next year. This will be a 2.6 percent increase in tuition.

Sixth through 12th-grade students currently have a $9,420 tuition, which will increase to $9,660 for the 2017-2018 academic year.  This is a 2.5 percent increase in tuition.

Each tuition level is increasing by $240.

“Tuition increased to cover teacher raises and operating expense increases,” said Leslie Dixon, director of advancement.

To keep tuition affordable, MRA remains mindful and keeps tuition increases to a minimum, covering teacher raises and unavoidable operating expense increases, Dixon said.

“The biggest increases in expenses each year are teacher raises. It is our desire to attract and retain the most qualified faculty and teacher raises are important in this process.”

 

Jackson Preparatory School’s tuition is rising by approximately three percent, said head of school Jason Walton.

“We have two levels because we run a sixth-grade program and a seventh through 12th-grade program. Sixth-grade tuition this year is $13,222, and seventh through 12th-grade tuition is $14,222.”

Next year’s tuition will be a 3.3 percent increase for both programs, adding $436 to the sixth-grade tuition, and $470 to the seventh through 12th-grade tuition. 

Walton said the overall wage growth in Mississippi and the metro area are large factors in figuring tuition each year. “We don’t want to outpace what people are making. Our tuition price point is extremely close to operating costs… What I charge is what it costs.”

“For any school operating in America today, the largest line item is personnel,” said Walton. “It’s a people-intensive business, and we need people with narrow expertise, like physics, Greek and Latin.”

 

According to head of school Gary Herring, the 2017-2018 academic year’s tuition at First Presbyterian Day School (FPDS) will be about five percent higher than the current 2016-2017 year.

Next year’s tuition for pre-kindergarteners is $4,500 per student, kindergartners’ tuition will be $6,620 per student, and first through sixth-grade tuition will be $7,990.

FPDS kindergarten special friends tuition will be $7,000 per student, and special friends in first through fifth grades will have tuition of $8,500 each.

“The reason for the increase is to give our teachers a small increase in salaries and benefits,” said Herring. “That dictates everything.”

According to Herring, the price point for Jackson-area tuition is hard to pin down, so knowing what’s too expensive for parents is difficult.

“We just try to keep (tuition) as low as possible and still maintain an excellent faculty. We have between 65 and 75 full-time teachers, so that’s about 75 percent of our budget.” 

 

At New Summit School, total fees are increasing by only $50. This year’s total fee is $8,500.

“There will be no increase for tuition, only a technology fee,” said Jeanine Pickering, New Summit marketing director.

Pickering said New Summit has increased tuition in increments of five percent every three years.

“New Summit School is continuously finding new ways to fund-raise and look for support through annual donations,” she said. “We are working toward raising funds for student scholarships, classroom supplies, technology equipment and other amenities for our school.”

Head of Christ Covenant School Cathy Haynie said annual tuition increases average at three percent to cover actual cost increases. “Tuition for the 2016-17 school year is $3,800 for preschool, $5,660 for kindergarten, $7,200 for lower school, and $9,125 for middle school,” she said. “The three percent annual increase is true for next year, and equates to about $200 for most of our tuition levels.”

Haynie said the largest expense at Christ Covenant is offering a quality independent education through faculty.

Redeemer School is keeping tuition the same this year. According to head of school DeSean Dyson, most students who attend Redeemer attend with a scholarship.

“The tuition this year and next is $6,500, but the vast majority of students pay roughly $500 per year or less,” he said.

Fund-raising is the main source of the school’s revenue, and how students’ tuitions are covered.

“A lot of what I do now is raise financial support for the school.”

 

St. Anthony Catholic School tuition is increasing as well. The current tuition for first through sixth graders is $7,738. Tuition for the 2017-2018 school year will be $7,970, a 2.9 percent increase.

“The costs of books, supplies, administrative and overhead costs increased,” said Kristian Beatty, development director.

To keep tuition affordable, St. Anthony looks to fund-raisers and private donations.

St. Anthony serves students from pre-k through sixth grade. 

Tuition for St. Joseph Catholic School last year was $10,735, and next year’s tuition will increase to $11,015, a 2.6 percent increase.

St. Joe offers classes for students in seventh through 12th-grade.

St. Richard Catholic School tuition will increase from $5,940 for the current school year to $6,120, a 3 percent increase.

St. Richard Catholic School serves students from pre-k3 through sixth grade.

“All of our schools have made a concerted effort to increase the compensation we provide to teachers and staff in the last few years,” said Maureen Smith, director of communications for the Catholic Diocese of Jackson. “We offer financial assistance wherever we can.”

According to Smith, personnel make up the biggest increase in expenses.

“St. Joe was able to keep tuition steady for a while, but upgrades in technology raised fees one year,” she said. “All of our schools have made and effort to raise compensation for teachers and staff. That is our greatest expense.”

The Education Center School was unavailable for comment at press time.

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