Community support helping to close major budget shortfall at Heritage Christian School
May 12, 2013
Steamboat Springs — An outpouring of community support along with some recent gains in enrollment have upgraded Heritage Christian School’s financial situation from dire to optimistic.
Last month, the private campus west of Steamboat Springs embarked on an urgent fundraising campaign to raise just more than a quarter of a million dollars so it could stay open next school year.
School Administrator Dave Entwistle on Sunday said the results of the fundraising campaign are encouraging.
"I would say there’s a renewed sense of optimism that we may be able to stay open K-12, and that’s what we’ve been praying about," Entwistle said. "It’s really encouraging to see our shortfall reduced like this."
The school’s board of directors last week wrote a letter to the community announcing the $260,000 deficit had been reduced to $78,000.
The board attributed the progress to sizable donations from community members and the gains in enrollment.
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Five local churches also dedicated some of their recent financial offerings to the campus.
"We have come so far in such a short amount of time," the board members wrote, adding they still were hoping to raise the $78,000 by Wednesday to avoid any program cuts.
Entwistle said the board plans to meet Thursday to discuss whether the school will be able to offer grades eight through 12 next school year based on the updated financial situation.
He said the campus already is planning to implement a few cuts and restructure the job responsibilities of some staff to help further close the budget gap.
Heritage Christian’s budget crisis came after some significant donors to the school announced they no longer could support it financially.
The shortfall put the school’s leaders in the delicate position of asking the community for help without creating panic or alarm about the financial situation.
"It’s kind of been a little bit of a roller coaster ride over the last month," Entwistle said. "I’ve had several of our teachers and community members approach me kind of out of the blue who are very much concerned about the school and want to see us continue. That’s been cool to see."
Entwistle said that in the past six to eight weeks, enrollment in kindergarten through grade six is up about 20 percent from last year.
The school is hoping the enrollment continues to increase during the summer months and further improves the budget situation.
About 40 percent of the school’s revenue is generated from donations and the proceeds of an annual auction, Entwistle said.
The remaining 60 percent comes from tuition.
To try and attract more families to the campus, the school’s board of directors recently voted to significantly reduce tuition next school year.
"This is a critical time where we’re hoping to get a lot more kids involved," Entwistle said.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com