Pinkerton Academy’s tuition is almost $3,000 less than the state average, with only two schools charging less.
Glenn Neagle, Financial Administrator for the semi-private school, discussed tuition rates Thursday, Jan. 23, with the Board of Trustees and superintendents and board members from the four sending districts, at the annual Winter Meeting.
Using data obtained from the New Hampshire Department of Education, Neagle showed that Pinkerton’s current tuition of $10,731.53 is lower than the state average of $13,489.88. The Souhegan Co-Op is highest at $19,317.74, with Bow second at $18,020.11. The two schools charging less than Pinkerton are Alvirne in Hudson at $10,600.02 and Manchester at $9.716.08.
Neagle gave two reasons for Pinkerton’s affordability. One, he said, is good money management. “We purchase only what we need,” he said. “We do a good job managing our expenses.” But he said they don’t skimp on anything that will directly affect a student’s education.
The other reason is volume, according to Neagle. The student population, 3,083, is a “high denominator” when divided into total expenses, Neagle said, adding, “If we had 2,000 students, it would be a different number.” He observed that smaller schools, such as Epping at $14,701, often have to charge more because there are fewer students – and taxpayers – to shoulder the burden.
Stabilizing the enrollment is a goal for the administration, Neagle said, adding, “We want to stay around that $10,731 figure.”
Neagle said people outside the sending towns and the Pinkerton community often have a misconception that the school is not affordable. “They walk on the campus, they’re surprised to see what a beautiful campus it is and how much we offer,” Neagle said.
While Neagle couldn’t speak for prior years, he said in the six years he’s been at Pinkerton, the tuition has been competitively low.
Neagle sketched the process for coming up with a tuition figure. “We take all our expenses, wait until after the audit and then divide the expenses by the number of students to come up with a number,” he said. The paraprofessionals who work with special needs students are not built into the budget, he said, because there are too many variables.
“A student may come in who needs to use the resource room, or a student with an IEP (Individualized Education Program) will sign up for welding and need an aide in the classroom,” he explained. The special needs expenses are billed to the sending towns, he said, and added back into the budget.
“We don’t know what services the students will need until the year starts,” he said.
Neagle said he wasn’t yet certain how the enrollment agreement with the Hooksett School District would affect tuition. “I can run some numbers, but it’s a big variable right now,” he said. “We won’t know for sure until we get a firm commitment from Hooksett, and know what courses the incoming students have signed up for.” While 106 Hooksett eighth-graders have expressed an interest in attending Pinkerton as freshmen, that number could change, he said. And it could affect the freshman class for 2014-15: “We might need to hire another teacher.”
On request from sending town board members, Neagle said he would be looking more closely at how Hooksett would affect tuition, with the possibility of its being lowered.