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Enrollment steady at IHC

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Despite enrollment still taking a dive at private schools across the nation, numbers at Immaculate Heart Central remain steady.

Although enrollment in kindergarten through 12th grade dropped by three students, the rise in prekindergarten pupils more than made up the difference.

“We’re excited about the year ahead,” IHC Executive System Administrator Christopher E. Hornbarger said. “It’s a pretty bright start to the year.”

This year, 552 students are enrolled at the school, compared with 555 enrolled at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year.

The pre-K program — including the new junior kindergarten program — has 118 children.

The rising numbers in the lower grades could mean a boom in high school enrollment in six to eight years.

“It means there are enormous opportunities ahead,” Mr. Hornbarger said.

Additionally, retention is above 90 percent despite the transient military enrollment, he said.

“We are starting the year right where we need to be,” Mr. Hornbarger said. “Financially, we ended last year with a very strong finish.”

He said the $77,000 surplus the school had last year will keep tuition affordable for IHC families.

For someone who is not a supporting member of a Catholic parish, elementary tuition is $4,150, junior high tuition is $4,400 and high school tuition is $5,950 this school year.

Tuition and fees make up 61 percent of the school’s revenue, but Mr. Hornbarger said he hopes to decrease that percentage over time by building up revenue from donations. Donations have increased 200 percent in the past two years, he said.

“You don’t want to be overly tuition-dependent,” Mr. Hornbarger said.

Although the fundraising net revenue was just shy of $250,000 for the 2012-13 school year, it makes up only 7 percent of the budget. In the 2010-11 school year, it was about $90,000.

“Alumni are happy that we’re investing in the relationship,” Mr. Hornbarger said. “It’s not just about the money. It’s about keeping them informed.”

He said these factors and the five-year plan created last year to increase programs and focus on the school’s core mission are among the reasons that IHC is bucking the trend of dwindling reserve funds at other parochial schools.

This year, Mr. Hornbarger welcomed 10 more teachers to the school’s faculty.

“Despite those challenges, we’ve had no cuts in program, no cuts in faculty and staff and no cuts in extracurricular or athletic programs,” he said.

“Although it’s difficult, we’re sustaining what we offer.”

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