Earlier this year when many of you participated in our fall parent survey, we were happy to receive so much useful feedback from you - our mission partners. As I reported to you then, three topics in particular generated the largest number of comments.
One was school-to-parent communication, and this email that you are reading is another part of the feedback loop that we want to strengthen. You ask questions, make suggestions, and offer input, and we respond.
Another subject that drew many comments is the college admission process, and you have again provided valuable information to us in the recent college counseling survey. We've just completed compiling that data, and you'll be hearing from me and from Ellen Masten soon.
The third topic was the cost of a York education, and I want to address that in this email. The York operating budget is not unlike a household budget; we have income and expenses, but unfortunately no money tree, even here on the magical York hilltop. Our income consists primarily of tuition; the second largest source is fundraising, and we also take a small percentage from the endowment.
Our expenses include the same operating costs you face: electricity, water, maintenance, insurance, etc., but by far the York budget is devoted to people and programs. 100% of you agreed with the survey statement "York teachers are outstanding," and as the kind of individualized attention we provide to our students is a people-intensive experience, 70% of our costs are salaries and other benefits for the great people who work here. Tuition increases from year to year in order to give our teachers at least a cost-of-living raise and to try to keep up with the rising costs of health care - again, an expense that for many is rising much faster than inflation. Of course, the bulk of the remainder of our budget is devoted to the instructional program itself.
We all want the same things for our wonderful school, and those include appropriate compensation for our faculty and staff, the best possible facilities that are safe, clean, and functional, and an affordable tuition that provides access to this exceptional academic and personal experience; unfortunately, the first two cost money that comes primarily from tuition. Similarly, almost every suggestion I receive about improvements to York involves adding more staff, programs, or facilities - but within the same limited "household income."
I am committed to financial transparency at York, and I welcome any question or comment - certainly any great ideas. I'd be happy to make this the topic of the March 3 "Heads Up" parent coffee in my office, but you need not wait until then. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you'd like to talk more about this or any other matter at York. One of the survey questions asked if "York is worth the investment," and over 93% of respondents agreed. That may be an "A," but I want you to know that we are doing everything we can to raise that grade and to earn that endorsement from you.
Head of School
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