Immaculate Heart Central is planning new ways to get more students in its classrooms.
The parochial school system announced initiatives including a junior kindergarten, a youth Spanish program and a junior/senior high school science, technology, engineering and math program, in a letter that also informs parents of a tuition increase for next year.
Enrollment is a challenge facing most Catholic schools, said Executive System Administrator Christopher E. Hornbarger in a news release. Our approach: Focus on delivering unique value, and enrollment will follow.
The school has 567 students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
We budgeted for 572 students, and I expect well be at that number at the end of the year, he said.
Tuition will increase by $200 for all students from kindergarten to 12th grade.
For a supporting member of a local Catholic parish, tuition is $3,000 annually for an elementary school student, $3,250 for a junior high student and $4,500 for a senior high student. For those who are not members of a local parish, tuition is $4,150 for elementary school students, $4,400 for junior high students and $5,950 for senior high students.
The school updated its discount policy, stating in a letter to parents that each additional child will receive a 20 percent discount no matter what grade the children are in. The previous discount policy applied only if three or more students from the same family were taught in the same school building.
When I got here, I wanted to change it, Mr. Hornbarger said. The existing policy was very confusing, so we wanted to make it simple.
Both full and partial tuition scholarships are also offered.
The pilot Spanish program for kindergarten and first grade as well as the junior kindergarten program will be introduced next school year.
The school offers three pre-kindergarten programs for 3- and 4-year-olds and runs for half the day. The junior kindergarten program, a step between pre-K and regular kindergarten, will be a full-day program for mature 4-year-olds and young 5-year-olds, according to Mr. Hornbarger.
He said both programs will be the first of their kind for the area.
The junior kindergarten tuition rate is set at $2,600 for next school year. Kindergarten tuition rates are included in the elementary school tuition.
The initiatives are not just focused on the younger students. In the next several years, the junior/senior high school will unroll a STEM program.
I fully expect to see a robotics course in the next few years, Mr. Hornbarger said. Wed like to be the first to offer that kind of program.
These are not the only ways the Catholic school is unique, he said, just the newest. The letter to parents boasts a nearly 100 percent graduation rate, with more than 90 percent of its students passing the state Regents exams. He hopes a boost in enrollment will boost the schools morale via sports teams, theater and other sources of school pride.
He has other initiatives planned, including a five-year strategy that will be unveiled next month.
Its very rewarding to put something together that you think will work, Mr. Hornbarger said. Time will tell.