If you’ve had a chance to read last week’s Griffin Gazette, you may have noticed the update in the right-hand column listing our 2016-17 enrollment following our May 15 deadline. In that update, you also may have noticed the asterisks by first, second, and third grades, signifying that we have begun waiting lists for these classes. I’d like to explain those asterisks further and involve you – our Petra community – concerning them.
Our May 15 deadline has come and gone, which means families who have signed and turned in tuition agreements are officially enrolled for next year, with remaining spaces to be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. This has been a new policy – one that helps us make more informed decisions as we plan for next year – and I’m very grateful to the many Petra families who have taken it seriously.
As of today, we have 190 K4-12th grade students whose parents have committed to come to Petra this fall, which includes an amazing 85% return rate (96% in the Upper School, which is unheard of in classical Christian schools). We’re thrilled with how our spring enrollment season has unfolded, but we need to fill as many empty seats (particularly in our Grammar grades) as we can so as to not get into a similar deficit situation as we’ve been in this past year.
Now about those asterisks:
*As of May 15, we only have enough students (14) enrolled to fill one 1st grade class; thus, we’ll take two more until we hit 16, and then begin a wait list and require that list to reach a minimum of six students before we open a second section. At that point, we would then divide the 22 and place 11 in each class (this is still 10 students short of our total 1st grade capacity of 32, but at least we would cover our faculty costs).
*Our 2nd and 3rd grade classes are each only two students above our cap of 16; we need four more in each class to be able to have second sections. As you know, we value our small class sizes, and yet it’s imperative for families to be aware of and understand the realities of what they cost. To add second sections to our 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades next year is a $90,000 decision, which we would not be able to cover with two 1st grade classes of seven students each and four 2nd and 3rd grade classes of nine students each. The numbers just don’t work.
I trust you recognize the dilemmas, but I also hope you recognize the potential: with just the addition of 16 students across first, second, and third grades, we can have two sections of each grade with 11 students in each class. In addition, we can avoid a one-section-only class rippling through future grades and delaying the issuance of teacher contracts for that grade that year.
To reiterate, the only decision we have made at this point is to freeze open enrollment for these grades, start the waiting lists, and communicate to you, our parents, our rationale in doing so. Because of our May 15 deadline, the good news is we know our numbers now (rather than in August). Could we see more 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade students enroll between now and September? Absolutely, but because word-of-mouth is our best marketing, we need your help.
I wonder who you know and have talked with about potentially making a move to Petra? I wonder if you might pick up the phone and present the option to that friend you’ve been meaning to ask? Is there someone you could call and accompany to one of our Open House Thursdays this summer? When was the last time you posted on social media an endorsement and link to our website? Would you be willing to host an information meeting of friends whose students do not attend Petra in your home so Mr. Christofferson and I could come present information and answer questions about our school?
As an incentive (and to show you we’re serious about asking for your help), we’re offering a $1,000 “finder’s fee.” For every new first, second, or third grade student you recruit to our waiting list and into our additional sections when we’re able to open them, Petra will deduct $500 from your tuition due and $500 from the tuition due from the new family you enlist. We’re not putting a limit on the discount, either: if you get motivated and find, say, 14 new students to sign up and enroll between now and July 31, you could save $7,000 on tuition!
In light of increasing federal government overreach, damaging student-to-student interactions, and real questions about what the Bozeman public schools (particularly the high school) will look like in four years, there are plenty of parents in the Gallatin Valley more open than ever to asking, “Why Petra?” With Christian teachers who strive to awaken love and wonder in their students, a classical curriculum soundly grounded in the Trivium, and a community of people committed to educating their children for the benefit of human flourishing, Petra needs you – our families – to come alongside these folks and ask, “Why not Petra?” For the sake of the Gospel, our kids, and the best that Western civilization has to offer, can I ask you to take that step?
Please contact me if you have any questions. And thanks for praying!