Dear MCS Community,
Over the past month, the board and I have met extensively to discuss various matters related to the pandemic, state mandated social distancing requirements, and resulting transition to remote learning. One important topic has been the severe financial strain some MCS families are experiencing during this time. As a Christian community, it is our desire to follow the example seen in the early church described in Acts where “all believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed any of their possessions as their own, but they shared everything they had…. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy among them” Acts 4:32-33.
The desire to care for the MCS community extends to our staff and families alike. For our staff, it is our intention to fully utilize each staff member to support remote learning and maintain full employment of the entire staff. Through this difficult season, this is an important commitment we feel strongly convicted to fulfill.
Just as we desire to care for our staff, we also desire to support families now experiencing a financial crisis. We have prayerfully decided to focus attention and resources on providing assistance to families with true need as modeled in the early church (Acts 2:44-45, Acts 4:32-35). To that end, the Board and school administration have established a MCS Relief Fund for the purpose of providing short-term financial assistance, or emergency tuition aid, to families whose finances have been specifically affected by COVID-19. Families can apply for emergency aid in accordance with the school’s established COVID-19 Emergency Tuition Assistance process. Assistance will be awarded based upon demonstrated COVID-19 related need that has led to the inability to continue tuition payments. To support this fund and better serve and meet the needs of the MCS community, we seek donors with the capacity and heart to live out Acts 2 by contributing to the MCS Relief Fund. If your family feels particularly led to contribute, visit the MCS Relief Fund Giving page. More information regarding the MCS Relief fund and tuition assistance process can be found below.
Know that we are in constant prayer for the MCS community. We trust God’s provision, faithfulness, and goodness at all times. We are confident God is ever-present working all things together in our lives and our community. As always, we deeply appreciate your partnership and prayers.
Heather Harrison, Head of School
Keven Kroehler, COO
Important and Common Questions
Is MCS going to offer a tuition discount?
The Board, administration, and Finance Committee have had significant conversations surrounding this topic. Through much discussion, serious consideration, and prayer it has been decided that MCS will not offer a tuition discount. This decision was based on several factors. First, one of our key goals is to provide and maintain an affordable Christian education. To do so, we strive to maintain a balanced budget that manages expenses and relies upon annual fundraising (Annual Fund appeal and Spring Gala) to achieve the operational budget. As a result, the school’s budget does not have the ability to absorb a school-wide discount. Second, given that we continue to pay our entire faculty and staff through this remote learning season, the operating costs and streamlined budget of the school remain unchanged. Third, we strongly believe that the budget’s limited financial margin should be earmarked for helping families experiencing severe financial need directly related to this unprecedented season of COVID-19. As modeled in Acts 2, it is our intention to support meeting specific needs rather than provide a broad discount. Fourth, we are confident that the remote learning program maintains our core value of Exemplary Academics. While we fully recognize the added responsibility and support parents have had to assume, faculty and staff are working tirelessly to continually improve and provide high quality online instruction, support and engage all students in learning, and provide enrichment opportunities all while prioritizing spiritual nourishment and relational connection.
My family is experiencing significant financial impact as a result of COVID-19 and we are in need of assistance. What options and process can we pursue for support?
Because we are dedicated to supporting members of our community experiencing unexpected need due to COVID-19 related issues, available funds within the budget have been specifically designated for emergency, short-term financial assistance. This aid is specific to financial impact occurring within the timeframe of COVID-19 shutdowns. Though funds are limited, if you truly find yourself financially impacted by COVID-19 and therefore unable to continue tuition payments, we will do whatever we can to support through financial aid or tuition payment extensions. We care deeply about our families and want to make sure we do what we can to address any issue that is within our ability. Please do not just cease tuition payments, but reach out to learn more about our financial assistance program through the COVID-19 crisis. We are all in this together and there is help available for those who have true need. For more information, please contact Keven Kroehler.
The MCS Relief Fund was mentioned. Is there a way for my family to contribute to this fund to support staff, their families, or financial aid for MCS families in need?
Yes! To augment this fund and better serve and meet the needs of the MCS community, we seek donors with the capacity and heart to live out Acts 2 and contribute to the MCS Relief Fund. We are thankful for a generous MCS family that has already contributed to this fund and seek additional families who feel led to contribute. Further details for this fund can be found here. Contributions to this fund can be made here. Please contact Heather Harrison or Julie Hellriegel with further questions.
A prior letter mentioned continual improvements to remote learning and increase in rigor. What are some of the specific changes?
Upon returning from Easter break, our students’ schedules have changed incorporating more time with teachers to dive deeper into subjects. Teachers have developed a new scope and sequence that will guide instruction for the final weeks of the school year. Additionally, assessment practices have been adjusted to better monitor the progress of student learning. In elementary, science, social studies, and Bible are now incorporated into the weekly schedules as well as rotations in art, music, and Spanish. For middle school, students are now participating in weekly electives in addition to all core classes, Spanish, and Bible. And, all students now have PE each week. These additions provide a well rounded, full schedule experience for all students. For more information, please refer to the communication sent by our division principals last week.
Have we lost instructional days due to the extended Easter break?
While extension of Easter break may appear to be a full week, the net impact on instruction is three days. The break had always been planned to extend through Monday after Easter. The last day of school has been moved from Thursday, May 21 to Friday, May 22. Additionally, though this school calendar year felt more compressed, the earlier start in August ensured the total number of teaching days matched the 2018-19 school year. You will likely recall this was made possible by changing the holiday break schedules (Thanksgiving and Winter Break/Ski Week) and eliminating staff development days. In addition, instructional time has been prioritized by reducing the number of events that can tend to impact instruction. Finally, the last week of school is typically busy with end-of-year celebrations but the staff is planning alternative options that will allow the final week to be fully utilized for learning, moving celebrations outside of instructional time. More information regarding end of the year celebrations will be provided before the end of April.
Does MCS qualify for any of the available federal assistance funds?
Yes, and we have been approved through our lender. However, MCS can only draw these funds as necessary to supplement any shortfalls in revenue required to cover operating expenses including staff salaries. MCS will fully comply with all federal funding guidelines which states “funds will be used to retain workers and maintain payroll or make mortgage interest payments, lease payments, and utility payments.”
Will we take advantage of an empty campus to pursue early Bright Future construction?
his is definitely an option we are pursuing and our Construction Committee has been exploring all options. More information on our Phase II Bright Future construction will be provided soon! As a reminder, Bright Future funds are restricted designated to construction-related work only. Donors pledged their funds toward Bright Future and there are strict guidelines by which those funds can be spent. Bright Future funds cannot be spent on the operating budget. As communicated in the fall, 5% of the annual budget is provided through undesignated giving provided by the Annual Fund and Spring Gala. These proceeds are generally used for operating needs and are separate from designated fundraising such as Bright Future or Fund a Need (Gala).