The 2023 State of School Breakdown Gaining Momentum Through COVID


As we enter the latter half of the 2022-2023 school year, it is time for our annual State of School Address, delivered by Head of School, Mike Runey. This address provides a comprehensive overview of our school’s people, program, and facilities, highlighting our achievements and addressing any challenges we have faced.

Gaining Momentum Through COVID

In the winter of 2022, our school faced the challenges brought on by waves of the Omicron variant of COVID. However, due to our school’s resilience and determination, we continued to build on our academic, social, and spiritual growth in the 2021-2022 school year. This growth included several notable achievements:

  • We adapted to new teaching formats and managed various disruptions caused by COVID.
  • Our students met their expected growth benchmarks at the end of the 2021-2022 school year.
  • Our enrollment continued to soar, with over 150 new students joining our classrooms while maintaining a retention rate of nearly 90% among our existing student population.

Maintaining Healthy School Growth

Enrollment Growth

At the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year, we welcomed almost 640 students to our classrooms. As of now, that number has grown to just over 650 students. In the past, we typically received 40-60 applications for the upcoming school year at this point in the year. However, in the past two years, we have received between 160-170 applications, indicating a significant increase in interest in our school. We are grateful for this growing interest and thank our community for sharing our mission with others who could benefit from a PCA education.

Staff/Faculty Growth

As our enrollment has continued to grow, we have also expanded our team of qualified teachers, staff, and administrators to ensure that we provide an excellent education to our students. The graph above shows the year-over-year growth of our faculty and staff alongside the enrollment growth over a 5-year span. Our goal is to foster healthy growth within our team as we inspire our students to reach their full potential.

Alignment with Parents

As we experience increased enrollment growth, we are committed to partnering with families who share our values and mission. Regardless of their background, we strive to align with all our families on values, character, and the faith we teach and build at PCA. This alignment with parents has been and remains essential to our school community.

Tuition Predictability and Proportionality

One common question we receive about our enrollment growth is how we manage the financial responsibility of tuition amid changing demographics in our family population. The key to maintaining consistent tuition costs lies in predictability and proportionality.

We assure you that each family invests proportionally in our school, and we appreciate your support. We also aim to be predictable in our tuition adjustments. This year, our tuition rate increased by just under 5%, in line with the rising costs of living. As 70% of our expenses are related to salaries for our teachers and staff, this tuition increase will help us retain our dedicated educators and mentors for the next year.

As the economic landscape changes, we will continue to responsibly steward your tuition dollars. This means being strategic in adding programs and adjusting tuition rates. We understand the impact of inflation and are committed to ensuring that a PCA education remains accessible for your children and future generations.

Academic Growth

Our focus as a school is not only on academic achievement but also on nurturing each child’s growth. This means helping them realize their God-given potential and guiding them to understand where their potential can take them over time.

While each student may achieve different levels of academic success, our emphasis is on growth that meets each student’s unique needs and challenges them appropriately. The chart below illustrates the growth levels measured during our NWEA testing for grades 3 through 10 in the winter of last year and this year. The number 50 represents the growth benchmark for schools. Last year, our math growth fell behind, but we made the necessary adjustments to our math instruction, and this year, we are pleased to report that our math growth benchmarks were met.

Another important term in education is “proficiency,” which refers to a student’s ability to perform at the current grade level in math or reading. Our growth approach leads to academic proficiency, ensuring that students can meet the academic expectations for their age. Scoring in the 50th percentile nationally indicates that a student is meeting proficiency. The chart below demonstrates our Middle School proficiency rates compared to all Middle Schools in New Hampshire. Based on these scores, PCA’s Middle School would rank in the top 5% of NH school districts in terms of student proficiency. Our students are not only performing well but also exceeding the expected benchmarks for their age.

Moreover, when comparing local Middle Schools in New Hampshire to PCA, it is evident that our students excel in both English Learning and Mathematics proficiency. Only two schools, based on data provided by the State of New Hampshire, are on par with PCA in both subjects, while others are on par in one or the other. Dover, Rochester, and other local districts also have lower proficiency rates in ELA and Math compared to PCA.

Program Highlights

  • In Preschool, we implemented TS Gold, a program that tracks and catalogs the academic and social growth of our preschool students.
  • Our focus on Math included the installation of MAP Accelerator, an online math education tool, on over 300 laptops for student use.
  • We created pathways for Middle School students to access the math and Fine Arts offerings at the Upper School.
  • We expanded leadership opportunities for Middle and Upper School students through the Prefect Program and Small Group Leadership, with the aim of extending these roles to the Middle School.
  • Eagle Sports Network (ESN) provides students with opportunities to learn about live-streaming using high-end A/V equipment.
  • Our students engage in various service opportunities, such as Food and Coat Drives, the Costa Rica Missions Trip, and the Missions Club, allowing them to serve others and make a positive impact.

Impacts Associated with our Mission

  1. Our challenging economic landscape may affect families’ ability to invest in their child’s education and enroll at PCA. We are committed to being predictable and proportional in our tuition-setting decisions to ensure that our school remains accessible to all families.

  2. Cultural norms in our world may conflict with the values and principles we teach at PCA. Despite these challenges, we remain faithful to our mission of maximizing each child’s God-given potential and navigating the changing tides of our culture with prayerful consideration.

  3. The opening of Seacoast Classical Academy, a new charter school in the Exeter region, may provide additional options for our families. We support each family’s decision to choose what is best for their children. However, we are confident that PCA will continue to be a learning community where Christian character and values are instilled through an excellent, Christ-centered education.

Looking to the Future

Short-Term Goals

First, we will continue to invest in our people and student culture, using feedback from our students and families to enhance their experience at PCA. We will also prioritize building healthy relationships that foster spiritual, academic, and emotional growth.

Second, as our enrollment continues to grow, we aim to have three homeroom classes across each grade from Kindergarten through 8th Grade. Next year, we will add an additional 1st and 4th Grade homeroom. Waiting pools will grow, initially in Middle School and Preschool, and then in several Elementary grades.

Third, to ensure our long-term viability, it is crucial to retain our excellent teachers. This means providing competitive benefits and salaries that recognize their hard work in maximizing your child’s God-given potential every day.

15-Year Strategic Plan

Phase 1: Continue to Respond to the Demands for an Excellent Christian Education in the Seacoast

We will remain responsive to the increasing demand for an excellent Christian education in the Seacoast region. Our focus will be on providing a high-quality education that aligns with our values and mission.

Phase 2: Expand Our Tent to Create New Spaces and Places for Our Students to Grow, Learn, and Thrive

We plan to expand our facilities and create new spaces to accommodate the growing needs of our students. This expansion will allow us to provide more opportunities for growth, learning, and thriving within our school community.

Phase 3: Deepen the Impact on Our Students in Fine Arts, Athletics, and in Their Classrooms

We will deepen our impact on students by investing in fine arts, athletics, and classroom experiences. By enhancing these areas, we can provide a well-rounded education that nurtures the talents and passions of our students.

In conclusion, the 2023 State of School Address highlights our school’s growth, achievements, and goals for the future. We remain committed to providing an excellent Christian education that maximizes each child’s God-given potential. With continued support from our community, we are confident that PCA will thrive and continue to make a positive impact on the lives of our students.

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