ABOVE: Currey Ingram Academy is the most expensive private school due to its specialized services, but more than 40 percent of students receive some sort of financial aid.
By MELISSA HAMBRICK
According to 2016 Census Bureau statistics, Tennessee spends about $8,800 per student each academic year.
Williamson County spends slightly less than the state average.
But if you’re considering an alternative to public school, what would you be willing to spend in order to have an education that you feel best fits your child and family?
Parents have many reasons for choosing alternative educational options to public schools. But in addition to things like school culture and philosophy, class size, and academic offerings, finance often is a consideration.
Private schools can have the reputation of being only for the most well-off families, especially in an area ranked as one of the ten most affluent counties in America by Forbes. But that generalization doesn’t necessarily hold true. With a dozen schools within our county borders and many more just a stone’s throw away, local parents and students have many choices — and they don’t have to break the bank.
The most expensive school on the list also boasts one teacher for every four students, as well as services unlike any other private school in the area. Currey Ingram Academy (CIA) on Murray Lane in Brentwood may look like a resort, with 210,000 square feet of space and stone detailing, but it was created with a mission.
Founded in 1968 as Westminster School of Nashville, the school moved to its 83-acre home in 2002 thanks to a gift from alumni parents Stephanie Currey Ingram and John Rivers Ingram, and became Currey Ingram Academy. From the beginning, the school was designed to provide research-based assistance for students with a variety of learning differences, including ADHD, dyslexia, language-based learning disorders, and school-based anxiety.
Students from 33 states and eight foreign countries have enrolled at CIA, many citing the school as a major reason for their move to Middle Tennessee.
The tight student-to-teacher ratio is what CIA Headmaster Dr. Jeffery Mitchell says it takes to deliver on their mission. In fact, their full tuition price is less than what it actually costs to educate a child in one year, with additional revenue through endowments helping to cover tuition and operating revenue for the school. As a result, over 40% of CIA students are on some level of financial aid, and a small percentage receives as much as 75% of the approximately $41,000 yearly tuition.
Brentwood Academy (BA) is also on the higher side of the price point, as the second-most expensive private school in the area, coming in at $26,980 a year for their 6th through 12th grade program. But like most private schools, Brentwood Academy offers need-based aid. Many may be surprised to find that about 30% of their student body of 740 students receives some aid.
Parents seeking a private school educational experience for their child will find plenty of other options at varying tuition levels. Most offer some sort of need-based financial aid and/or multi-child discounts.
St. Matthew School offers a nearly $2,000 tuition subsidy from Catholic Parishes to Catholic students, reducing cost to about $7,200 per year for the pre-kindergarten to 8th grade school. New Hope Academy in Franklin was founded in 1997, dedicated to establishing an economically, racially, and culturally diverse student body, with special attention given to low-income families. With tuition of $11,800, more than 61% of the 214 pre-k to 6th grade students at New Hope Academy receive scholarships or financial aid to assist with costs.
Franklin Classical School (FCS), which serves approximately 170 K-12 students at its current campus in downtown Franklin, has a different take on tuition and structure.
Founded 25 years ago as a Classical Christian home school tutorial, the school utilizes a college-style block schedule for its 7-12 graders, while also incorporating options for outside electives and home school courses.
While K-6 includes all courses in its $8,170 cost, Lower Division (7/8) and Upper Division (9-12) students build upon a Humanities Block that includes English, humanities, literature, Bible, and Logic or Rhetoric. The Tuesday/Thursday Block cost varies by grade, ranging from around $6,500 for Lower Division through around $7,500 for the Honors Humanities Block in Upper Division. Similar to a college schedule, which is built upon academic interest and need, other courses are offered on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Math and science, along with other electives, they may be taken through the school at a cost of $435 to $900 each, depending on the class, or may alternately be added via online courses, dual enrollment, or home school.
Home school is another low-cost educational choice.
Registering with a church-related umbrella school is one of three routes to legally home school in Tennessee. Three of Franklin’s private Christian schools offer homeschool umbrella options alongside their traditional offerings.
Franklin Classical School, Grace Christian Academy, and Franklin Christian Academy offer the convenience of record keeping, achievement testing, compliance with homeschooling laws, and some guidance on courses and curriculum. Franklin Classical and Franklin Christian Academy offer participation in some clubs and on sports teams for home school students under their umbrella programs, as well. However, homeschool families may need to consider additional costs for curriculum, materials, online classes, or tutorials.
Whether public, private, or home school, finding the best educational fit for your child and family can be intensely personal. There are many considerations to keep in mind, and finance is only one piece of the puzzle.
With a variety of educational options at various price points in Williamson County, as well as opportunities for financial aid, price doesn’t have to be the only deciding factor.
COMING TOMORROW: The private schools that are expanding now.