Thank you for the calls of encouragement and support this week. I’m so grateful for our optimistic community of Christ-followers at TFA. As in times past, we will navigate this season surrounded by God’s grace and mercy. Your kindness has blessed me beyond measure! Your prayers make all the difference.
During the last two months, we’ve carefully analyzed the potential impact of COVID-19 on our local economy. Like any thoughtful person would, we reached the conclusion that private schools will likely enroll fewer students during an economic crisis than they would otherwise.
With that in mind, we began looking at ways to make tuition more affordable and assist families with financial needs. I thought you might want to know a few more details. The result of the analysis mentioned above is that we reduced our operating budgets and our personnel budgets. I suspect nearly every business in Central Florida has done the same thing.
Choosing to freeze tuition rather than raising it negatively impacted our budget by well over a half-million dollars. Choosing to provide a monthly payment plan with no fee negatively impacted our budget by over $125,000. A conservative estimate for the impact COVID-19 may have on independent school enrollment is a 10 percent decrease. That would have a potential negative revenue impact of over a million dollars for a school like TFA. Geopolitical unrest is expected to adversely impact our international student tuition income by $600,000. These are just a few of the factors that went into our analysis.
In the area of our personnel budgets, we eliminated some positions and consolidated some positions. There were more than 24 administrative/support staff employees impacted. There were 11 teachers impacted. These are wonderful people. They are friends and colleagues. These were extremely difficult decisions.
The decisions to freeze tuition, eliminate fees, and reduce our budgets were done thoughtfully and prayerfully. The decisions were vetted through wise counselors at the school board level, leadership team level, and with a core group of trusted faculty advisors.
My son Caleb is a rising senior at TFA (Class of 2021). I can say with great confidence that his experience, and that of every other student, will be better because we responded strategically to the economic threats on the horizon. Proverbs 22:3 tells us that the prudent man sees trouble coming and takes action while the simple-minded goes on and suffers for it.
TFA is poised for an incredible 2020-21 school year. Every program in every division will be geared up and ready to go. While our Middle and Upper School class schedules have been delayed, I want you to know our theatre, arts, band and choral programs will be stronger than ever. All the academic classes that were offered this year will be offered again next year. All athletic teams will continue to be offered. Every student in K-12 will have the opportunity to take physical education classes. In the next few days, we will be announcing a new academic partnership that will significantly expand our Christ-centered course offerings for grades 6-12. These are not days of worry. These are moments of opportunity.
You may have heard the naysayers share their rumors. Don’t listen to them. Visit the school website yourself by clicking HERE. There you will see a complete list of our remarkable faculty and staff for next year. They are excited to serve your family and invest in your children’s lives.
Those who view life through the twisted prism of social media will often run with false narratives. Don’t buy what they’re selling! Our best days at TFA are yet to come!
As with most everything I write, many individuals contribute to the process. This letter was reviewed by several parents, key faculty members, our finance and human resources team, our School Board Chair, and many others. We all agreed that it is important to provide as much information as possible in times like these. Please feel free to call me or send me an email if you have any questions. Thanks again for your support, encouragement, and faithful prayers.
In His Joy,
Steve D. Whitaker, Ph.D.
Head of School