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Posted on May 1, 2014

The Preschool Strategy

The Preschool Strategy

by Tim Williams, SCSBC Director of Finance ◊ 

There are currently 29 BC school societies within the SCSBC family. Of those school systems, 16 operate a preschool. There are also 2 schools that have a preschool within close proximity, and a few are considering adding a preschool when their facility expansion allows.
Likely there are many reasons why a school might choose to start a preschool:

  • a ministry to Christian single parents who need to work
  • a ministry to Christian families that need two incomes to survive
  • a ministry to children who are ready for a school environment at an early age
  • a means to compete against other preschools

The purpose of this article is to address whether the preschool strategy is working. This begs the question: “What was the original purpose for starting your preschool, and is the program succeeding?”
From a financial perspective, almost all schools are operating their preschools on a break-even basis. That is, the preschool income is roughly equal to the preschool expenses. Schools don’t generally attribute a portion of administrative overheads to their preschools, but they do track direct costs related to the preschool.
From a student attraction perspective, schools are reporting that there appears to be a high degree of “stickiness” of preschoolers graduating to the kindergarten program. Several schools are being intentional about creating relational links and experiential touch points for preschoolers and their mothers with the kindergarten program, as well as with big brothers and sisters.
From a marketing perspective, a potential parent looking for a Christian school now has several viable entry points into the school family, whether at age 3, age 4 or age 5. Given that many preschools appear to be quite full and that parents appear to be happy, one could argue that this area has been successful.
From a ministry perspective, the many dedicated staff in our schools appear to be laying a Godly foundation in partnership with the preschool parents. Possibly this area is hardest to measure but perhaps should be considered.
Given that preschools are financially on track, there may be a temptation not to evaluate program success. It may be a good time of year to ask the question: “Are we succeeding?” I think we may be pleasantly surprised at how well our preschools are doing.

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