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Christian school trends show need for strategic partnerships

Written on November 24th, 2008

Flourishing schools will be those that share: Koetje

Christian schools need to look to strategically partner with those who can assist in the development of the school’s mission in order to survive and flourish, according to David Koetje.

Koetje, Christian Schools International president and CEO, spoke about strategic partnerships at the recent Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) governance conference.

Koetje says for his parents it was a given to send their children to the Christian school and quality never entered any conversation. But for today’s Gen X parents there is a “spreadsheet” phenomenon when selecting a school and “gone are the days that if it’s Christian, that’s all that matters.”

As education quality expectations increase demographics show schools opening and closing as educational choices expand. In the United States there has been a significant decrease in the number of Christian schools.

“The time has never been more critical for the Christian school to distinguish itself from the schools down the street,” said Koetje.

“Our programs must be anchored in a worldview that lays claim that this world belongs to God, our tuitions must be reasonable and our planning must be strategic.”

With this in mind it is essential that schools continuously look for partnerships, he says.

“Schools that survive and flourish will be those who have leaders who understand that by sharing we gain more,” said Koetje.

The cost of operating schools increases faster than incomes, causing schools to cut programs to minimize costs. When this happens “in reality you are asking parents to pay more for less” which is not a long-term solution, says Koetje.

Schools often have ideas to possibly move toward sustainability but few have the resources to carry out the thought. Two years ago Christian Schools International explored how it might be a catalyst for schools and strategic partnerships.

This thinking led to the formation Christian Education Enterprises — an entity to come alongside schools to minimize financial risk when initiating new projects. The organization, which has been in operation for a year, provides a third revenue stream for schools.

Christian education has a long history of models that combine parent tuition dollars with donated dollars and that will continue; however, for long-term sustainability there needs to be a third revenue source, says Koetje.

Christian Education Enterprises provides a way for schools to initiate potential revenue generating projects without the financial risk.

“It is our hope that this is the place where we can expand on the concept of enhancing individual school missions through strategic partnerships,” Koetje said.

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