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Pretty River Academy won't offer high school classes next year

'Pretty River Academy is a not-for-profit entity, but it is also not-for-loss,' states letter sent to parents citing financial reasons for not continuing high school program next school year
Pretty River Academy in Collingwood.

Citing financial constraints, Pretty River Academy in Collingwood will not be running high school programming in the 2023/24 school year, according to a letter sent to parents through the school’s board this week.

The letter, which was forwarded to CollingwoodToday and signed by Jeremy Creed, chair of the Pretty River Academy (PRA) Board of Directors, outlines changes the school will be undertaking in the 2023/24 school year. This includes pausing the school’s high-school program, as well as appointing new head of school, Valerie Turner as of Jan. 26, and making adjustments to the school’s tuition fees for their elementary programming.

“We are aware that this decision substantially impacts many members of our PRA community, including our students, their parents, and the high-school faculty,” wrote Creed in the letter. “The board and school management are committed to doing everything in our power to provide meaningful support to everyone throughout this process.”

“In the past, chronic cash-flow issues at PRA have been masked by extraordinary income (for instance, selling parcels of land), taking on private loans and the subsidizing of grades with low enrolment by grades with higher enrolment,” Creed wrote. “In the spirit of fairness, equity and to begin building long-term financial stability, we have eliminated these practices.”

The letter notes that the current cost of delivering the high-school program is more than double the tuition fees collected, and preliminary enrolment projections for 2023/24 would see that tripling.

“Apart from a small spike during the height of the pandemic, demand for our high-school program continues to diminish, most notably from our own elementary student body, who overwhelmingly choose to attend other high schools after their Grade 8 graduation,” wrote Creed.

The letter outlines that tuition fees for 2023/2024 for all elementary students, from kindergarten to Grade 8, will be set at $18,500. 

“PRA is a not-for-profit entity, but it is also not-for-loss. The decisions made in setting tuition for this year will not result in a ‘profit’ but will rather cover current costs only,” wrote Creed.

In the letter, Creed notes that staff compensation is the most significant expense of running the independent school, however the campus and facilities also come with a cost.

“While we have some of the best facilities in the region, our occupancy costs have long been unsustainable,” he noted.

The board is hosting a private meeting for members of the PRA community on Feb. 13 to answer questions on the changes. When contacted for comment by CollingwoodToday, Creed said he wouldn't give an interview until after the Feb. 13 meeting.

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Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen brings 13 years of experience to her role as reporter for Village Media, primarily covering Collingwood and education.
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