Steven Schlegel graciously authored this piece for Legacy. He is the founder of SchlegelDunn LLC, a financial planning and investment management firm. He has more than 20 years of experience in the personal financial planning industry and holds both the CFP® (CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM Professional) and CPA (Certified Public Accountant) certifications. Additionally, Steven has been recognized in D Magazine's as one of the best financial planners for the past nine years. Steven and his wife Jamie have been married for 17 years and have two sons, Landon and Luke, who have each attend LCA since they were in Kindergarten.
We all want to give our kids the best. For many families, considering all the options for their children’s education is yet another area to evaluate the “best” for our children.
A private Christian school is one of the many options parents can choose for the education of their children. Our area has outstanding public schools, and homeschooling is always available, too. Perhaps over the last year, more parents have considered online virtual school, which is yet another choice. Among these potential solutions – on-campus private education is likely the most expensive. What are the benefits? What are the costs? Is it worth it for you?
Smaller, More Intimate Learning Environment
In most cases, private schools will provide a smaller, more intimate learning environment. This is helpful to ensure your child will not be “just a number.” It can also be a good path for a child who is not as extroverted. It can help them to be seen, even if they are not normally demanding the most attention. A smaller environment might allow a student to become involved in more activities than they would have been able to participate in at a bigger school; for example, playing multiple sports, or playing a sport while also being a member in the band.
Another benefit of private school is a direct partnership with parents and the school. Public school brings the state and the federal government to the table as a partner in education. While that is not always a bad thing, it is another voice that parents need to consider. Do I want the government to have an active role in the education of my children? It is not unfair for the government to have a voice in public schools. They provide a lot of the funding and management of the schools, select the curriculum, and are responsible and accountable for certain outcomes. We must acknowledge, though, in the public-school format the government has been invited to play a very large role.
Perhaps the most important difference most parents would appreciate in a Christian private school is the foundation of the Christian worldview. If we believe God is our creator, we would appreciate math, science, history, as well as art and music, brought to our children as topics that exist because of God, not in spite of Him, or simply running alongside Him. When our kids have challenges at school (and every school has challenges), do we want those situations addressed with the foundation of the Word of God at the center? When our children are very young, it is particularly important to have teachers reinforce the belief system we have established at the center of our home. When they are older, ask yourself if you would want them in an environment that teaches them to think critically and to challenge why they believe what they believe? Do we want the teachers and administrators who will have such influence on our children to share our faith?
I think a good Christian private school is trying to create this very environment.
Being a Good Steward of Your Resources
Of course, few things in life are all benefits with no costs. An on-campus private Christian school is expensive. I think the financial cost needs to be considered seriously. If you actually run the numbers, and think through annual tuition for a child at LCA from kindergarten through high school, with inflation-based tuition increases, the cost climbs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars very quickly.
That is a lot of money.
Money is also one of those items in life that carry with it the concept of “opportunity costs.” Like time, money spent on one thing cannot be spent on another. Instead of spending the money on private school, we could use it for incredible experiences with our family, or easily to pay for college and perhaps even graduate school for our kids. Might we be a better steward with those resources by giving them away, instead of giving our child a more exclusive education?
These are all worthy questions to consider. And to move forward with conviction, these and other questions ought to be considered fully.
For my family and for every family, I think, we must engage that holy alliance of prayer and reasoning. We must each decide what is best for us.
As a financial advisor, I view much of life through the financial lens. Every year, I consider the points mentioned above, and with my wife, we evaluate what we think is the best stewardship of our family’s assets. There are financial statistics that can be helpful – for example, did you know that the LCA class of 2020 received an average college scholarship award of $115,000? There certainly can be a financial return on investment. LCA also offers an indexed tuition program that allows families to apply to pay for education within their means and specific to their family’s financial position. Over the last school year, one out of every seven students qualified for the indexed tuition program with the total amount of support surpassing one million dollars.
The reality is that we evaluate our choices through much more than the financial lens. I have tried to highlight some of those thoughts with the hope that they will be helpful to others.
Of course, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution here. But, if you decide private school is right for you, please consider LCA. It is expensive. There are trade-offs. But LCA is a place with a mission to deliver on the valuable differences that I mentioned above. LCA is not perfect – the perfect school does not exist. However, the leadership, teachers, and staff are always working hard, trying to do their best and admitting when they make a mistake. They realize private school is an expensive choice and that many families must sacrifice to make that choice. They go to work as professionals to do their part to deliver not just a financial, but an eternal return on our investment. Ask yourself, can you really put a price on that?
Legacy Christian Academy is Frisco's preeminent Pre-K through 12 Christian school committed to educating students in a college preparatory environment balanced in academics, athletics, and fine arts–all within the context of a biblical worldview. For more information on Legacy, visit our admissions page.