With 98 students currently enrolled at Orangeville Christian Schools (OCS), the school has increased its enrolment nearly 40 per cent in three years.
Principal and chief operating officer Paul Marcus says the No. 1 catalyst for this growth spurred from a discussion in 2009. At the time, there were 59 students at the school, and enrolment was declining.
The school treasurer asked Marcus what he thought the issue was for the declining enrolment.
“We knew we had great staff, we knew we had a brand-new facility, we knew we had a great program, the parents that we had were very happy, but we were still not growing,” says Marcus.
Marcus’ response was that the $12,000 tuition was unattainable for many people, with even long-time supporters saying they were at the point where they couldn’t afford to send their children to the independent school anymore.
The principal suggested looking at reducing tuition to attract more families. Marcus says the treasurer was surprised to find that a 33 per cent tuition reduction required only 18 full-time equivalent families to make up the revenue loss.
Marcus says they started talking about this idea at the next board meeting, and the board asked about dividing the plan into gaining the 18 families over three years.
The school created three-year budget and enrolment plans, and presented their business plan to the bank in order to receive a line of credit to cover the deficits during the first two years.
With the bank’s approval, the plan was put in place, and the school met its enrolment goal the first year.
Just before the start of the 2010-11 school year six families un-enrolled. A prayer team that meets every Tuesday prayed for one new family a month to eliminate the growth shortfall. Each month up to May, the school had at least one new student enrol.
In terms of tuition revenue, at the end of May 2011 the school was short two students. Over the months preceding the 2011-12 school year, 13 new families with 25 new students enrolled, making tuition revenue greater than anticipated.
Marcus says the tuition reduction plan was the catalyst for short-term success, with other factors playing in.
“I think everybody would point to the tuition reduction as being the major catalyst, but to me it may have just been that, just the catalyst and there were other things that fuelled it,” he says.
— Part 1 of 2