From time to time I post and share here pieces I have written as part of my role and responsibility as Head of St. Gregory. The following letter, which I prepared and which is co-signed by our Board Chair, was sent last week to all St. Gregory families, inviting them to re-enroll for next school year, a year I sadly will not be able to be a part of, but a year in which I know great things will continue to occur and great advances will continue to be made.
February 1, 2012
Dear St. Gregory Families:
We write you to invite and encourage you to continue on next year as part of our St. Gregory community.
Adding value to a St. Gregory education is a very high priority of the school’s leadership, and we have made great strides forward we have made together. You may or may not know that in the past two years:
- We became one of the first 1:1 laptop schools in Tucson, and provided resources for WIFI expansion, for netbooks for students not bringing their own, and for professional development for our faculty.
- Our new advisory program is strengthening the relationships of teachers and students, and providing stronger teacher-mentors, improved service learning programs, and an enhanced sense of community; a student reporter for our school newspaper recently wrote: “Student response to advisories has been overwhelmingly positive in nature. “
- We’ve added robotics programs in the Middle and Upper School, a new Science Olympiad competitive squad in the Upper School (which is a two time state-wide winner of the “rookie of the year” prize), a new Technology Design course, a TEDx speaker program, and several new innovation workshops for our students.
- We’ve implemented new technologically enhanced educational assessments in both the Upper School (CWRA & PLAN) and middle school (MAP), which better enable us to determine how well our students are doing and how we can better improve and personalize their learning.
- We’ve revamped our PE curriculum in grades 6-9 to include a much stronger health education and life-long athletics curriculum, including featuring outside-guest teachers for Judo, Yoga, Ballroom Dancing, Bicycling, Healthy Skincare, Diet/Nutrition, and more.
But we are not slowing down: in just the past 8 months,
- We’ve installed a new fiber optics internet cable to ten-tuple our campus bandwidth.
- We’ve increased graduation requirements in Science, Math, and Social Studies.
- We’ve restored the School Counselor position to nearly Full Time.
- We’ve introduced new courses in many departments such as Creative Writing, Digital Performance and Production, Shakespearean Tragedy, and The American West: Borders and Frontiers.
- We’ve installed a new 3D printer in our Physics Lab as we continue to transform that space into a “Fab-Lab” for student innovation (Google “Fab-Lab Ted Talk” to learn more); Fast Company magazine recently called upon every high school in America to install 3D printers, and we are pleased to be among the first.
- Our new librarian is undertaking new informational literacy education initiatives for all grades.
- We’re expanding international education in several ways, including strengthening sister-school relationships in Mexico, seeking new study abroad opportunities for our students, and providing stronger services and support for our growing number of international students and families.
It is time again in our annual cycle to communicate our new tuition for the coming year, and we are pleased to share with you that the Board of Trustees has decided there will be no increase and that we will maintain tuition at the current level for next year. Last year’s tuition increase was 1.3%, and the previous year saw no increase (0%), meaning over the current three year period we will have delivered an average increase of under 0.5%, (compared to the previous three year average increase of 3.8%).
Does this mean we have no need for additional revenue? No. We do—we do to support these initiatives and, even more importantly, to support better our teachers with improved compensation. Did you know that our average faculty salary is in the low forties?
Although we are not raising tuition, we are continuing to ask for your assistance with a wide variety of ways you can help us enlarge our revenue:
- Making an Annual Giving donation, you greatly enable us to do better by our teachers and to reduce the need in the future to increase (non-tax deductible) tuition.
- Directing your 100% refundable tax credit donation, you strengthen our scholarship program and redirect funds which are then made available for faculty salaries and program improvements.
- Recommending St. Gregory to your circle of friends and acquaintances (consider using Facebook) helps us grow enrollment and strengthen our revenue.
- Connecting us to Arizona “C” Corporations, which might be able to make a corporate tax credit donation, to community foundations, which might be able to provide us a grant, or to Tucson businesses, which might support our annual auction with a gift, are all very valuable and much appreciated.
Support in all these ways serves to strengthen our finances both immediately and in the long term, and, will assist us in every way.
The stronger and more united we are as a connected and philanthropic community, the more we will prosper in being able to serve our students and our teachers and the less we’ll need to raise tuition.
The state of our St. Gregory School is sound, and, more than that, it is poised to grow and advance in the years to come. Thank you for being a part of our community and for the support you so generously provide.
If you wish to discuss any of these matters, we are very much available to you, as are our Director of Admissions, Christine Thornton, and our Heads of Middle and Upper School, Heather Faircloth and Susan Heintz, please let us know if you’d like to make an appointment.
Jonathan Martin Shelly Silverman
Head of School Board Chair