Private schools in the area are posting slight drops in enrollment, due in part to a sluggish economy. But two local private institutions say recent gifts are allowing them to reach a greater number of students through scholarships.
Augusta Preparatory Day School recently received a $2 million gift from the Malone Family Foundation, established in 1997 by communications and media executive and investor Dr. John C. Malone and his family.
Augusta Prep is the only school in Georgia, and one of only 28 nationwide, to have been named a Malone Scholars School this year.
"The interest earned is to be directed toward scholarships," said Rosie Herrmann, director of admissions and financial aid at Augusta Prep. "In the world we work in, the Malone Foundation scholarship is so prestigious, and to get a $2 million gift in this climate is an absolute blessing."
Another scholarship opportunity recently awarded to Prep comes through the Goizueta Foundation, named after former Coca-Cola chairman, director and CEO Robert C. Goizueta, who died in 1997. The Goizueta Foundation provides scholarships to Latino students in secondary schools.
"We have had a drop in enrollment, but these scholarships are our silver lining around what could have been a dark cloud," said Herrmann.
Likewise, Augusta Christian Schools received two substantial donations from area church congregations to be used for scholarships.
"Although, like most other schools, ACS is feeling the effects of a very troubling national economy, we believe that enrollment will ... exceed the budgeted enrollment for the 2009-2010 school year," said Dr. John Bartlett, interim headmaster at Augusta Christian.
The tight economy, meanwhile, has put on hold plans for Evans Christian Academy to build its new campus in Grovetown, said Director Freida Lachman.
The school currently meets at Crossbridge Baptist Church in Augusta but has purchased a site on Chamblin Road near the new Grovetown High School for a new campus. More donations are needed to move the project forward, Lachman said.
At Columbia County Christian Academy, Director Sandy Klemm says enrollment remains steady.
"We have a very few openings, but not many as we limit our class size to eight students," Klemm said.
Rebekah Helbley has just taken over as principal at Augusta First Seventh-Day Adventist. She said enrollment figures remain nearly the same as they were last year, with 25 to 30 students enrolled in kindergarten through eighth grade.
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