BBA tuition to increase 2.49 percent

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MANCHESTER — Tuition at Burr and Burton Academy will increase 2.49 percent for sending schools for the 2019-20 school year, according to a memo dated Dec. 10 and signed by headmaster Mark Tashjian and board of trustees chair Seth Bongartz.

The increase means sending school tuition will be $17,490 per year.

The rate for non-sending towns will be $19,490. The current year tuition is $17,065 for students from Danby, Dorset, Dover, Londonderry, Landgrove, Manchester, Mt. Tabor, Peru, Stratton, Sunderland, Weston and Winhall, and $18,065 from outside those towns.

While the increase is slightly more than last year's 2.2 percent increase, Tashjian said it's lower than the average tuition increase over the past decade.

"In the last 10 years the average increase has been 2.74 percent," Tashjian said. "Our per-pupil cost has been below 3 percent for 10 years running."

Since the 2015-16 school year, the tuition rate has increased by 2.3 percent annually.

"These figures represent not only our immediate sensitivity to the cost pressures faced statewide but our long-term commitment to maintaining affordability," according to the memo.

Tashjian said the tuition increase is being kept as low as possible thanks to the schools' endowment draw of about $800,000 per year, money raised at the end-of-the-year gala, and other fundraising efforts that produce close to $1 million to support operations.

Tuition for students from around the globe add an additional $3 million in revenue.

While tuition is going up 2.49 percent, the increase falls short of the actual cost of operations, Tashjian said.

"It's not even keeping up with our costs," Tashjian said. "Our salaries go up about 2.8 percent, and benefits, including health care, are going up over 11 percent."

According to the memo, "we are confident we can cover this gap through additional fundraising and prudent cost management."

Tashjian said that rather than shifting the burden to Burr and Burton Academy's sending towns, the school has chosen to focus on trying to grow revenue through fundraising.

"We're trying to manage the process and keep taking on more and more through our fundraising efforts rather than shifting the burden to our sending towns," Tashjian said. "We're working hard to be hard to be part of the solution rather than the problem."

Burr and Burton Academy has an endowment that helps the school contain costs and an active fundraising effort that contributes to school funding as well.

"All of that adds up to a school that's much larger and offers more opportunities than if we were just trying to live on tuition alone," Tashjian said.

According to the memo, BBA has invested millions of dollars in facilities.

"We have created special programming at the Mountain Campus and the Dene Farm at Hildene, invested in sound and projection systems in our Riley Center for the Arts, purchased Steinway pianos, and more," the memo reads. "We became an iPad school and have iPads in the hands of every single student, expanded athletic offerings, constructed a state of the art turf field, renovated our fitness center, purchased additional land for campus expansion and now we embark on a $20 million building program to expand our capacity, enhance academic offerings, and provide more space together as a community."

The memo says BBA cherishes the support from the sending communities.

"With our extensive fundraising, endowment and additional revenues, we are able to provide outstanding educational opportunities well beyond what is funded through tuition," the memo reads. "We strive to be a source of strength to our communities."

Contact Darren at dmarcy@manchesterjournal.com or by cell at 802-681-6534.

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