Photo by Scott Franz
Heritage Christian School student Piper Eivens sleds down a hill Tuesday during recess at the private school west of Steamboat Springs. The campus' school board decided last week to reduce tuition significantly in an effort to attract more students.
- Thursday, March 14, 2013, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
- Heritage Christian School, 27285 Brandon Circle, Steambaot Springs, CO
- Saturday, March 16, 2013, 5:30 p.m.
- Sheraton Steamboat Resort, 2200 Village Inn Court, Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs The school board at Heritage Christian School is hoping its decision to drop tuition rates significantly next school year will attract a wave of new students to the private campus just west of Steamboat Springs.
“They're hoping to create a little bit of buzz,” school administrator Dave Entwistle said Tuesday. “We are in no way devaluing what we're doing. We've got great teachers and great things happening at this school. We want to get more kids here and make Christian education more affordable in this valley.”
He said the board decided last week to reduce the tuition for secondary students from $7,300 to $5,500. Elementary-level tuition will drop from $7,000 to $4,500.
But tuition for kindergartners will go in the opposite direction from $2,300 to $3,000.
Entwistle said the lone increase was made so that the school could better cover the costs of that program.
Like most private schools in Routt County, Heritage Christian has seen its enrollment decline drastically in recent years.
The campus taught 107 students in the 2009-10. This school year, 65 students are enrolled.
The drop in enrollment has spurred the campus to find ways to attract more students.
A little more than a year ago, the school changed its name from Christian Heritage School to Heritage Christian School after a marketing firm advised the school that the name would be more inclusive.
More recently, it launched a new J-term that had students engage in a slew of activities ranging from a trip to Washington, D.C., to an outdoor education course.
Staff members also are reaching out to area churches to promote the school and recruit more students.
“There are so many positive things happening at the school, and we feel we can reach a lot more families in this community,” Entwistle said.
He added that the campus hopes to increase enrollment to 100 students next school year.
School board Chairman Brian Weerts said the decision to lower tuition came after discussion about the best way to attract new students.
“We know we have so much to offer at this school and felt there were very likely a lot of people who couldn't afford to do the tuition we had before,” Weerts said.
The campus in recent years consistently has raised its tuition to cover its operating costs.
Weerts said some on the five-member school board were concerned by the proposal to drop the tuition so significantly, fearing the decision could appear to devalue the education at the campus or cause other problems.
“But in the end, we decided we would go with a new tuition structure because we could reach more people who want their kids in the safe and Christian environment that we offer,” Weerts said.
The changes to the tuition rates were presented to parents at a meeting Monday night.
Entwistle said parents were excited by the change.
“In addition to dropping the tuition, we certainly need some financial support and help,” he said. “It's a two-edged sword. On one end, it doesn't make sense to drop the tuition because we're not where we need to be on sound financial footing. But we're trusting with more kids here at the school, and hopefully with some donors who would step up to the plate and help us through this transition of building the school up, we'll get on a more solid footing financially.”
School celebrates 25 years
Heritage Christian School hopes to continue its recruiting efforts this week with an open house Thursday and a Saturday gala celebrating the school's 25th anniversary.
The school was founded in 1987 when it was operated at the Steamboat Christian Center. The school moved into its current facility in Heritage Park in fall 1998.
The gala, which starts at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort, will feature a silent auction followed by dinner and a live auction.
Entwistle said noteworthy auction items include a guided mountain lion hunt and a black powder elk hunt near Vernal, Utah.
Tickets to the gala are $35. The school will purchase tickets for any family considering enrolling their children in the school.
The school is encouraging community members to attend the gala along with school families.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com