Financial Stability

That title may be an oxymoron.  Even those that are considered rich often fret over the fluctuations in the marketplace.  Certainly all levels of economic status have reasons to question their financial stability.  It is no different for a business or organization.  Can you think of anyone that is immune?  Can any of you remember when IBM was the big blue and a juggernaut?  How about GM?  You think Apple is impervious?  Probably thought the same about Microsoft at one point.

My point is God is sovereign and has stated that he appoints when kings rise and fall.  It is no different for our school.  I have been analyzing the results fo the annual survey that many of you took back in November.  One of the themes I picked up on is that there is a perception that our school is less financially stable than others.  I think I understand that perspective.  Almost any company that loses 15% in gross revenue over the course of a couple of years would have some financial challenges.  And all not-for-profit organizations work on a budget that aims for a net profit/loss of $0, so the need to ask for money and manage expenses tightly can give the impression of instability.

However, God is clearly in control of the financial situation of our school.  He has wondrously provided throughout the life of the school and continues to do so this year.  Through his faithfulness as he works through you, we are meeting our payroll and keeping current on our expenses.  In addition, we have been able to make improvements in our facilities, give the teachers a Christmas bonus(thank you to all who gave), help over 80 children attend our school who otherwise could not afford it, and now we have received some funding that we will pair with some budgeted funds to make security improvements at the South campus.  With enrollment moving up slightly at the break, God is answering prayer to add to our school.  All of this adds up to a pretty solid financial outlook.

With that said, I think we all desire to strengthen our financial position as other schools have done.  It would be great to have an endowment fund that would help fund growth in our school.  We are building up a rainy day fund to provide some cushion in the ebbs and flows of any ministry.  At some point, we will need to raise funds to improve our land and facilities’ situation.  As any small business owner knows, if you were to have cash, there are always places that you could invest in your business to strengthen your offering and grow.  We are investing over $25,000 in marketing our school because this biggest impactor on our financial position is enrollment.  If we would continue growing for the next few years, we could do some things that have to be postponed in the past few lean years.

Keep praying, and thank you for taking time to read this post.  Rejoice in the Lord’s provision and pray that he will open in his storehouse as we are faithful in our service to him.

Safety and Security

I am a thousand miles away, and several relationships removed from having any personal entanglement in what has happened in Connecticut.  That doesn’t stop the tears.  I know God is sovereign, but it still hurts to think of those families that are in shock over the loss of a loved one.  My prayers are for peace and comfort for people who may be hurting for a long time.  I also pray that God will be glorified in all of this.  How will he use this for the good of his kingdom, we may never know directly, but you can be confident that he will.  Our God is good and is love, and sin has destroyed man and caused us to do the unthinkable.

As a superintendent, I have realized early on that I am accountable to God and parents for the safety of children entrusted to our school.  Let’s remember that God’s protection is our first and last protection.  If God wills, we will be free from harm.  He has not always chosen to prevent bodily harm from his children(remember all of his disciples).  However, as parents and those entrusted with the care of children, we must do what is wise and prudent to deter those who intend harm.

We have been evaluating safety and security around the school and making changes as we can.  Some things are simple: have teachers and leadership more visible during times of heavy traffic into and out of the school.  Some things are messy to implement: new security windows in the South offices.  Some things are expensive: magnetic locks, camaras and key pads in the South campus.  Know that we have thought through many of the issues, and we are attempting to tighten up security measures as best we can.  Here are some of the items.  Some of which will need your cooperation.

  • Stricter enforcement of the policy requiring all visitors (all locations) to sign in at the offices and where visitor badges when on premises.  We have asked teachers and staff to “challenge” anyone not wearing a visitor’s badge.  They should escort all such individuals to the office to help them check in.  That even goes for people who are “well known” around the school.  Making exceptions starts relaxing our guard.
  • Stricter enforcement of all authorized personnel wearing school identification
  • We are putting security windows in both offices at the South campus over the Christmas break to increase the ability for office personnel to see people who enter the building.
  • Adhere to 24/7 automatic lock of all doors at the North campus.  Currently we have doors auto-unlocked during heavy traffic times
  • Increase the number of rehearsals of lockdown and emergency procedures.  Include unplanned events where unusual circumstances interrupt normal procedures.  Parents, if you are on site during these drills, please participate.  It becomes a requirement that you participate if an actual event is occurring.
  • Begin on January 1st, keeping the lower North door at the South campus locked throughout the day. This will require all visitors to access the building through the South entrance.  Will cause some challenges with traffic patterns during passing periods.
  • We have bids to put magnetic locks on the South door entryways.  This includes locks, access panels, identify camara, and a system to buzz people in from the office areas: $20,000 in total.
  • To make some security enhancements to the North building, the bill would be $8000.  The North campus has so many access points, we must make some improvements to the traffic flow.

We are attempting to fund these needs from the budget, but that is not an easy task.  If you would like to help us move sooner than later, please get your donation to the school and mark it for security.  Most of all, remember to pray for the safety of our children.  We pray each and every day.

Watershed Moment for Christian Education

There are several topics, when brought up with church leadership, break my heart due to the response of that leadership.  I have had pastors tell me they are not core in their ministry.  What do you think?  Should these be core?  Are they core in your church?

  • Evolution vs Creationism – if you don’t believe Genesis as real history, the rest of the Bible is worthless; no first Adam, no need for a second Adam
  • Education – do we really think that we can escape the consequences of allowing our children to be filled with the world’s worldview in public school system both in the classroom and in community with non-Christian students?
  • Godly living – are our consciences clear that the church has been the salt in the world it needs to be in the face of clear challenges to God’s commands in the realm of gay lifestyles, abortion and no absolute truth?

Mr. Beck gave me a copy of an article that resonated deeply with me as I consider the role of MCA in the lives of families and especially our students.  It is very interesting that our new Vision statement is restated in this article.  God is planting the same thoughts in Christian educators around the nation.

The article is in Christianity Today (November 2012), and is titled, Addressing the Drift, and its focus is addressing “the Christian community’s failure to equip this particular age group (often referred to as “Milennials”) to live “in but not of” the world and to follow Christ in the midst of profound cultural changes.”

When these Milennials approach the world, “they are totally committed to saving the world as long as it doesn’t require any type of discomfort.”  What that means is that they “desire to maintain a Christian identity while accepting the substance of popular culture’s ways of thinking.”  This is impossible as God calls us to be completely committed to him.  You cannot serve two masters.

So what are we to do as parents and educators?  We must “equip our students to think through current and evolving issues instead of mindlessly conforming to the culture.”  We must prod “students to think critically and to apply these skills as they critique the culture that shaped them.”  Have you had a conversation with your child about a difficult topic and they start their response with “In my opinion, “?  Well that is typical of this generation.  They are avoiding any situation that requires them to take a stand on what is right that might cause discomfort for them or the person who would then be in a position of wrong.  Their stance is that as long as you don’t impose your beliefs and lifestyle on me, live as you want…truth is relative.

My point in sharing this article (by the way there is so much more that is powerful in this article), is to underline the importance of our Vision statement and to communicate that we have to know this generation if we are going to reach them.  This article writes, and I wholeheartedly concur, that we are at a watershed moment for Christian education from K through college.  I will end with two quotes for you to consider:

“When someone indicates that the essence of Christian education is ‘excellence’ or ‘service’ or even ‘small class sizes with personal attention,’ I have to ask what is distinctively Christian about such an essence?  Can’t someone from another faith tradition do those things?  What are distinctively Christian are the gospel, the Scriptures, and the church.  If curricula, student life, and even athletics aren’t fully integrated with these things, then it is not, per se, a Christian institution.”

We “must teach students how to think instead of focusing so much on what to think.”

We want our students to be world changers in the model of Moses, Daniel and Paul and revitalize the world in their vocation and with their faith.  Therefore we must be a Christian organization that is Christian to the core and courageous in our stance, and we must teach our kids how to think through the overwhelming amounts of information and the issues of the time in which we are living.  Why don’t you practice helping them think through the points I opened this post with?  May God give you wisdom.  We are helping them with that critical thinking here.  Hopefully you see that evidence in your children.

Thankful Planning…What is Leadership Thinking About?

Mom’s coconut creme pie!  Umm!  Now there is something to be thankful for.  As I sat amongst family this Thanksgiving, I was reminded of all the things for which I am thankful.  Of course, being a child of the King is the most important one.  However what struck me is that I should be thankful for the privilege of being used by God to carry out his plans.  Of course a challenge presented in that statement is getting self out of the way.  The second challenge is being able to plan but recognizing God’s sovereignty in relationship to those plans.  The leadership team went offsite for a couple of days in November to dream, discuss, debate and consider ways that we can do our best at living out the Mission and Vision of our school.  Here are some of the ideas we are considering

  • Summer – can we leverage the summer months to give our students opportunities to rub shoulders with world changers?  Could that time be used to help kids explore their interests and passions with those world changers?  For example, could a respected medical doctor come teach an introductory course on trauma care for a week or two or even a month and discuss how you can use this knowledge to be salt and light in the world?  Could one of our teachers who is an expert in small engine repair teach a practical hands-on course?
  • Academics Breadth – we are considering partnerships that can appropriately expand what we offer.  For example, we are in conversations with the Culture House who is a Corporate Partner and are a family with kids in our school, to consider how we can use what they do in education to expand what drama and arts offerings we have.
  • School Year Calendar – it looks like we are going to significantly change our school year’s calendar.  Yes, we will be starting later than Shawnee and Olathe schools, and still get done about the same time in May.  Also, we will move two days of teacher in-service from October to Thanksgiving week, so families will have a whole week off for Thanksgiving.  Kansas requires that we have to go to school either a certain amount of days or minutes.  We have chosen to use the minutes model, which allows us to condense the school year some.
  • World Changers – School will start a little differently next year.  We will use the first couple of days of school to get our young people focused on the idea of intentionally growing to be world changers by spending time impacting the community around us.  We will do this through a couple of service days.  Throughout the year, we will be putting events and tactics in place to encourage this development.  Some ideas would include a senior project to defend your worldview, a portfolio that students build throughout their history at MCA, having kids understand the issues in our culture that we must make a stand and how to do that.
  • Technology – MCA uses technology in a lot of ways.  In many regards we are ahead of other Christian schools.  This field changes so rapidly, you can get behind quickly.  We must examine blended models, remote access, in class use of devices, video, etc.  For a small, private Christian school to survive long-term, we must expand who uses our services.  How (or do we?) connect with home schoolers?  Is it a wise investment to do distance learning?

If you have insight or connections on these subjects, we would love to hear from you.  We are in the process of prioritizing and considering funding and effort needed for these ideas.  Within the next few months, we will be announcing further implementations for these areas.  Stay tuned.