We recently compiled the information from the 2017/2018 All School Year End Evaluation, and we want to share some of the findings with you. Among some of these results, we will also share with you the steps we are taking or the plans in place to help us address some of these concerns while also answering questions that came up regularly in the survey comments. While we cannot address all comments, we do want to take time to address those that came up frequently. There are no names associated with any of the comments, and we tried to keep them as general and anonymous as possible, to protect the privacy of all who completed the survey.
If you participated in this year’s survey, we sincerely thank you for your input and feedback! It’s important to us to know how we’re doing. If you did not participate, please know that we read all responses and prayerfully ask God to show us how He wants the school to move forward in light of the suggestions and comments received. We cannot always act on all of the comments, but please know that we appreciate them and take all of them to heart.
Two individual survey invitations were sent to all families (parents of all students, FRCS staff, and FRCS’s Board) at Front Range Christian School, which included 836 email addresses. The second was sent only to those who were sent the first email but who had not yet taken the survey. There were also two invitations included in the FRCS Times for those who may not have received the individual email survey; the FRCS Times is sent to 965 email addresses. Of the invitations sent, 113 people completed the survey.
Several respondents who answered “No” are parents of graduates.
This survey has been sent to families at the end of each school year since 2013. It was originally a tool of the FRCS Board to assist in their annual review of the Head of School, but has since become a tool for FRCS Administration to gauge how the school is doing through the eyes of parents. For the most part, the past five years of surveys has not seen sizeable differences in the ratings provided for each area. Modest changes each year are to be expected with changing demographics and varying participation.
Results and Responses
The results of the survey are shown to provide context for how the school is doing overall. While we appreciate and value individual comments, they do not always paint a complete picture for multiple reasons:
- not all respondents leave a comment (typically less than ¼ of respondents actually leave a comment)
- not all comments include enough specifics that allow the school to act on them (for example, it can be challenging when a parent makes a comment about too much homework or not enough homework when we do not know the grade of that parent’s child)
- many comments appear to contradict other comments (for example, comments along the lines of “the school sends too many emails” next to a nearly equal number of comments stating “the school should send more emails”) making it difficult to act on either of them
- some comments are very specific to the person leaving the comment and his or her experiences, which may not be widely felt by the FRCS community at large; these comments are often isolated incidents with no other, similar comments being made
For this reason, the overall results are shared to provide context. They are the primary tool for the school’s Administration to gauge how the school is doing. Significant increases or decreases in any given area are noted and researched and acted upon.
Some individual comments, especially when there are similarities or themes from multiple comments, also warrant a response. Responses to some comments follow in the section after the results. While we cannot respond to all comments, please know that we read and prayerfully consider all of them.
“FRCS exists to partner with the Christian home in training children for life and equipping them to impact the world for Christ.” ~ Please rate the school on the implementation of this mission statement in the following areas.
Scale: 1 (very poor) – 10 (excellent); Specific number of responses: 113
Nurturing Students in Their Faith
A significant goal of FRCS is to nurture students in their faith, through programs like GO!, dGroups, chapel, practicums, Mini Me, and through classroom instruction in all subject areas. Please rate the school on how well your student’s faith is nurtured at FRCS.
Scale: 1 (very poorly) – 10 (very well); Specific number of responses: 112
Communication with Parents
Every person involved in the school needs to feel well-informed and that they will find a listening ear when needed. Please rate FRCS in the area of communication.
Scale: 1 (very poor) – 10 (excellent); Specific number of responses: 111
Development of Community
FRCS values relationships because we believe education occurs within a collaborative atmosphere of community among students, teachers, parents, coaches, etc. Please rate FRCS on the development of community.
Scale: 1 (very poor) – 10 (excellent); Specific number of responses: 112
FRCS cares about the growth of your child beyond academics. Rate FRCS’s extracurricular programs. (Please answer this question for arts and sports programs overall. If you have a specific thought on a specific program, list it in the comments box below. If your child is in PreK/K or elementary, feel free to skip this question.)
Scale: 1 (very poor) – 10 (excellent); Specific number of responses: 94
Recommending FRCS to Other Parents
How likely are you to recommend FRCS to other parents who are exploring options for their child’s education?
Scale: 1 (not at all likely) – 10 (very likely/already have); Specific number of responses: 111
Theme: Teacher turnover
A few parents commented regarding their concerns of teacher turnover at the junior/senior high specifically, though a couple of parents also mentioned it in regard to the elementary.
All schools experience some teacher turnover, and overall, FRCS’s retention rate for faculty has been very high. While we have had some departures due to performance, most have been for “life changes”–marriage, babies, retirement, relocation for spouses employment, or a career change.
This has been an unusual year in our elementary school with us seeing five teachers leave (all for life change reasons listed above). Historically our teacher retention rate in the elementary has been at or above 90%.
On the Junior Senior High side of campus we saw mid year departures by two faculty members both for career changes. Those two aside, we will be retaining 17 of our 18 full-time faculty members. The one leaving is going into full time ministry but remaining as a part-time employee. Our biggest area of change on the Jr Sr High side is in the visual arts. Our two part time visual art teachers have decided to step down. One due to relocation and the other to pursue other employment opportunities. Each one is a fan of FRCS and will continue to support this community as they are able.
So, while there has been some change it has been for better. Our faculty is stronger than it has ever been, with quality teachers who attracted to what we are doing here at FRCS.
Theme: Slow Responses or Lack of Communication from Staff
Several parents expressed concern regarding the fact that some staff respond much more slowly to emails than others, with a couple mentioning they may not have ever received a response. Others expressed concern that some communications were not sent in a timely manner (“last minute” was a phrase common to these comments). And others expressed that they wished to receive more communication from staff regarding their child’s academic progress.
Please know that “slow responses” are something we as a school are working on. Our employee handbook asks staff to respond to emails within one school day (we don’t require our employees to respond to voice or email over the weekend). We will be sharing your concerns about this with our staff and reminding them that communication is a very important aspect of our partnership with the Christian home. We ask your patience as written communication (email) comes much more naturally to some people than others. If you do not receive a response in a timely manner (our goal is one school day, but we ask that you allow a couple of days when possible), please feel free to reach out to the appropriate principal or office administrator.
We are developing guidelines for all staff regarding the communication of events (including permission slips and important, general information) to help provide structure for timely communications. To this point, the challenge has been a lack of structure, and communicating with parents has fallen through the cracks. While this structure won’t take care of all of the communications concerns, we do believe it will go a long way in ensuring that you receive information about events at the school in a timely manner.
We invite you to reach out to your child’s teacher(s) in the event you feel you need more information regarding academic progress. Some parents desire much more involvement in this area than others, and we welcome parents letting us know when they would like to know a little more. Feel free to email teachers or schedule a meeting with them — meetings need not be reserved just for parent/teacher conferences where time is limited. We invite you to take initiative in getting answers to your questions.
We encourage all parents to read the FRCS Times each Friday when it is sent. We are working to ensure that all important information is included, with links to more details on our website when appropriate. In trying to find balance between “too many emails” and “not enough emails,” the Friday newsletter is one of the most important communications we send, as it is the one communication that contains just about everything related to the community at the school.
Theme: Chapel, Bible classes, Mini Me
Several parents expressed their pleasure with chapel at FRCS, a couple specifically mentioning how much their student loves it. Also mentioned by several parents were Bible classes and how much their child gets out of them, and how much parents and students alike love the Mini Me program.
These offerings are a part of what makes FRCS unique. We are grateful to hear how many of your students are impacted by what they encounter through these classes and programs. We will continue to pour into these programs and follow God’s lead on making them the best they can be to His glory.
Theme: GO! Outings and dGroups
There are mixed responses regarding GO! Outings and dGroups. A handful of parents expressed satisfaction with the programs, even citing the impact they’ve had on their students. Others were concerned about GO! only being every other month, and they stated they felt outings should be more about serving others. Others were concerned that dGroups seemed to be more about socializing than discipleship.
We are constantly evaluating programs like dGroups and GO! Sometimes the changes we make do not have the impact we thought they might have, and other times we find that the change was exactly what the program needed. Administration will be considering these two programs over the summer and seeking God’s will for the next year. The dGroup and GO! programs are areas of specific improvement focus. We will be looking to improve their structure and organization. Please join us in praying for these programs.
Theme: Desire for Expanded Offerings
There were a few responses from parents expressing a desire for expanded class and extra-curricular offerings at the junior and senior high levels, to afford their children more opportunities to grow.
One of the great things about being a small school is that everyone has the opportunity to participate in just about everything the school offers. One of the challenges with being a small school is that the opportunities can be a bit limited due to smaller numbers. Because coaches and teachers are required in order to accommodate additional sports or expanded course offerings, there is a critical mass that must be reached to sustain those expanded programs.
As a school, FRCS desires to grow in numbers for the simple reason of the benefits it affords the students. It is not about larger numbers for the ego of the school, but rather about being able to provide more to our students. The larger our student body, the wider variety of classes we can offer, because we have the ability to expand our faculty. The larger our school, the more sports we can offer, because we actually have the students needed to participate and compete.
Our Admissions Office works tirelessly to help achieve this goal. We encourage parents to assist with these admissions efforts whenever they can. Help spread the word about FRCS: invite your friends to events; show up to events where the Admissions Team is building a presence to invite people to learn more about our great school; have conversations with those in your church about the value of a Christian education, and let them know about your experiences with FRCS; and please be praying that God will bring the right families to our school–families who will benefit from being a part of the FRCS community and who will pour back into it to God’s glory.
Theme: Strategic Direction for the School
A few parents expressed a desire to know the strategic direction for the school, what the vision for the future holds.
The school has produced a copy of our Strategic Plan, which is available to parents on our website. Limited print copies of the plan may also be available at the administrative offices. All Parent meetings are an excellent resource for parents to hear about updates to the status of the items contained within the Strategic Plan.
There are two All-Parent meetings scheduled for this coming school year:
- Tuesday September 18: The focus of this meeting will be our 3 phase campus buildout plan
- Thursday January 24
Please mark your calendars now and plan on attending these critical meetings of our community!
Theme: Tuition Increases
Only a handful of parents expressed concerns with annual tuition increases, but those parents were adamant in their dissatisfaction with those increases.
Administration at the school prayerfully weighs several factors surrounding tuition each year. Over half of the money collected from tuition covers teacher and staff salaries for the year; the rest covers operating expenses (health insurance, utilities, facilities, liability insurance, etc.). While there are many factors that influence and affect tuition, one of the top reasons for the modest increase each year is to be able to pass on a modest cost-of-living increase to our staff and teachers. Our teachers are incredibly valuable to us, and we are, unfortunately, not able to pay them what they are truly worth. Being able to extend a modest cost-of-living increase each year, however, is paramount to teacher retention.
In recent years it has also been a challenge to keep up with the rising cost of health care. We offer a solid insurance benefit package to our employees and are committed to continuing those benefits. Recent years we have seen consistent double digit increases in insurance costs; we usually budget for a 20%-30% increase. Our tuition increases (average of 3.5% over the past five years) have been critical in covering this rising, yet essential, operating cost. During this same time we have reduced our registration fees by over 20% in an effort to keep an FRCS education attainable.
We are constantly working to develop non-tuition based revenue streams (i.e., our tenants, camps, facility rentals) in an effort to cover our costs using funds outside of tuition. Those efforts coupled with our relentless focus on good stewardship have enabled us to keep FRCS a great value for a PreK-12 Christian education.