I shake my head and wonder where the days have gone. We are already at Thanksgiving week and staring at Christmas break and the middle of the year! It has been a good year and we are expecting God to continue to bless us in 2017. The last blog I reviewed our foundational documents (mission, vision, core values and expected student outcomes.) In this blog, (please forgive the length), I want to tackle the results of the first 7 statements of our recent survey. We had 123 people respond to the survey, which provided us with some great feedback. Overall, as you will see below, our scores were very good.
Statement #1 – “I have a good understanding of Calvary Christian School’s mission and purpose.” Strongly Agree: 85; Agree: 36; Neutral: 2; Disagree: 0; Strongly Disagree: 0. We received very few comments on this section. The one response that stood out had questioned our identification as a college-prep school. We are a college-prep school. If you look at the percentage of our graduates enrolled in the institution of their choice, following graduation, we run between 90% and 95%. However, I am interested and looking at the options for expanding our program to include preparing students for various vocations. It simply comes down to money, space and a faculty to teach those courses.
Statement #2 – “I feel that the frequency and modes of communication from Calvary Christian School are appropriate.” Strongly Agree: 59; Agree: 49; Neutral: 7; Disagree: 8; Strongly Disagree: 0. Most respondents were pleased with the number and modes of communication. However, this is an area we need to continue to improve. This statement had the second highest number of disagrees. Most of the constructive criticism dealt with two areas: frequency of emails and consistency of emails. Several comments mentioned our improvement in this area, but we still have room to grow. We are aware of the number of emails we send, and trying to find the balance and timeliness of information is often a struggle. Thank you for bearing with us as we seek to get better in this area.
Statement #3 – “The faculty and staff at Calvary Christian School is knowledgeable, competent, professional and polite.” Strongly Agree: 76; Agree: 40; Neutral: 4; Disagree: 3; Strongly Disagree: 0. While we had a small number of disagrees, there were some comments that mentioned certification in teaching areas and politeness of staff. On the certification issue, ACSI (our accrediting agency) requires 80% certification. We have set the goal of 100% at CCS. So, all of our faculty is either currently certified or renewing their certifications. We require our elementary teachers to have Elementary Education degrees. Our Middle and High School teachers either have Education degrees, or they majored, minored or have significant coursework or experience in the area related to their teaching subject. Our faculty attends professional development events that increase their effectiveness in the classroom. Additionally, each faculty member is observed a minimum of 3 times a year. We are constantly looking for ways to improve our effectiveness in the classroom.
Regarding politeness, I will be addressing the faculty members in our next staff meeting, reminding them that their interaction with students, parents and each other is a reflection of their Christian commitments. There are times we all make mistakes in this area (I’ve had to seek the forgiveness of some reading this blog), however, we should constantly be refining our people skills.
Statement #4 – “The education my child receives at Calvary Christian School will prepare him/her for life after college or the workforce.” Strongly Agree: 65; Agree: 47; Neutral: 10; Disagree: 1; Strongly Disagree: 0. While we received very good scores on this statement, there were some comments related to preparation for the work force, more AP classes, more technology courses. In addition, we do have a growing dual credit program supporting courses both on and off campus. As a school, I believe this is a direction we should move. In fact, some of these issues have been brought up by the strategic planning team. However, while I hate to say this all the time, every improvement has an initial price tag and a continuing cost. So we must make sure that any improvement we make, we can afford and sustain.
Statement #5 – “I like the uniform options at Calvary Christian School and I wouldn’t change anything.” Strongly Agree: 47; Agree: 44; Neutral: 18; Disagree: 13; Strongly Disagree: 1. I was expecting more disagrees to this statement. I also realize, probably more than any other question, this has the capability to divide. The responses ranged from too many options to not enough options; from too formal to not formal enough. Then you throw in comments about the cost, quality, etc. All I can say at this point is we are listening and working on it. I am well aware that if we make no changes, there will be some who are pleased and some displeased with that decision. If we make changes, the same will be true. Any adjustments we make will be made with your comments and input in mind.
Statement #6 – “Calvary Christian School offers the right amount of extra-curricular activities for students of all ages.” Strongly Agree: 36; Agree: 59; Neutral: 21; Disagree: 7; Strongly Disagree: 0. This category had the fewest number of “Strongly Agrees” than any other statement. Most of the comments centered on the desire for more extracurricular opportunities for Elementary students, in particular, sports. While we have extended the archery to younger students over the last few years, we are simply limited with practice space for other sports. An additional concern is the need for a sizeable number of volunteer parents to run those programs. We will continue to look for avenues to provide these activities. If you are interested in coaching, please contact Matt Morrison at email@example.com. Let me just say this OUTLOUD . . . boy, a second gymnasium would certainly help.
Statement #7 – “I feel the education and opportunities my student receives at Calvary Christian School is worth the tuition I pay.” Strongly Agree: 58; Agree: 52; Neutral: 10; Disagree: 3; Strongly Disagree: 0. Once again, we had a small number that disagree. However, I get it that no one wants/likes to pay tuition. I will readily admit that I hate asking for it. However, this is the nature of Christian education, it is not cheap. I will say what I have said before, when you compare similar programs, between higher tuition and state funds, Christian schools in the Cincinnati area receive $5,000/student/year MORE than CCS receives, with three-fifths of that being higher tuition prices. We have tried to keep tuition costs low at CCS, with much of this burden borne by our faculty. They do it because they feel called to do it. We have a nice facility which is aging, but well-kept. We face increasing costs in insurance, utilities, textbooks, overtime pay, maintenance, etc. I understand the tuition concerns and every year, we weigh the impact of tuition on enrollment.
Here are a couple of things you can do to help your tuition costs:
- Promote CCS at your church. Talk to your pastor about helping CCS. More students = more tuition dollars = ability to keep tuition lower.
- Support the CCS Annual Campaign. Our goal of $125,000 is roughly 4.9 % of our annual operating budget.
- If your company has grants available to schools, please get that information to CCS.
- Participate in the TRIP program. This will allow your everyday purchases to reduce your tuition expenses.
We take the results of this survey seriously. We look for “themes of improvement” for us to work on. Please know we hear your comments, however, there are certain restrictions we face: ever-tightening finances, space requirements, lack of volunteers, competing interests (parents on different sides of the issues), etc. We have listened to you and will address as many of the issues that we can.
My next blog will deal with responses to statements 8-10 dealing with CCS’s strengths, opportunities to improve and biggest needs.
Thank you for trusting us with the education of your child, we very much view it as our calling from God. I hope you all have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.