Private school affordability remains a major challenge for local families. WBFO's Senior Reporter Eileen Buckley says The Park School of Buffalo has adopted a "flexible tuition" approach.
“Across the country, tuition at independent schools and colleges are growing at the rate that is faster than the cost of living adjustments,” explained Head of School Christopher Lauricella.
Park School houses 300 students in grades K-12. It boasts smaller classes on a large campus with a dozen different buildings. Laurcella admits it's an “expensive” model to maintain, which is why Park School is the first in Western New York to adopt the new flexible tuition plan.
“If you go to our website you are going to see a section there called affording Park and it’s going to change every year, but we give a floor and a ceiling, so it’s basically the range of what people are currently and actually paying, now we can’t do flexible tuition for everyone that comes to Park School. We have a finite amount, but it lets us allocate what we do in a slightly different way than we were doing before,” Laurcella said.
Lauricella said the school has actually experienced enrollment growth, but it’s finding that it needs to offer discounts to more and more middle class families struggling with the cost of tuition.
“And when you look at the distribution of families who come to our school, from their family income, you’re going to find we are a little bar belled, so on one end we’ve got a lot of families who were really working hard to support them and make it work. On the other end, we have families that are paying the full cost of tuition and not enough families in the middle to support the entire mix. So part of what we are trying to do is open this up,” Laurcella noted. “We are seeing that we’re extending more and more of a discount rate every year to attract and bring families in and we can’t do that forever. That curve would be detrimental to our finances, so this is a way of getting control of that.”
Park tuition covers 85 percent of full cost of the education model. The school works to raise the rest.