September 10, 2015
Dear Balboa Academy Families,
As we begin this exciting new school year, it is important to recall why we have all chosen to be part of Balboa Academy. Based on the feedback of the May 2015 survey with students, parents, and teachers, the top reasons for appreciating Balboa Academy are:
- A Strong Sense of Community. Our teachers, students, and parents care deeply about each other. All of our teachers are committed to student learning and, in order to learn, students must be at the heart of our school. The responses to the survey indicate that the members of our community consider Balboa Academy to be a large, caring family.
- Educational Programs Offered: Students learn at Balboa Academy, and they learn because of our highly qualified teaching staff. Our teachers speak English fluently. One has a doctorate, 60% have Master’s Degrees, and all have at least one Bachelor’s Degree. Of our 108 teachers, 54 participated in various training programs over the June-July vacation. Our teachers work hard at improving their methods in order to deliver the best education possible to our students.
We are committed to improving our facilities:
We also know that there are certain areas in which parents, students, and teachers would like to see improvement. Based on the May 2015 survey feedback, we know that, unanimously, parents, students and teachers would like to see our facilities improved. We have been renting our buildings from the Ciudad del Saber since 1999, and we acknowledge that they have many limitations:
- They are old—built in the 1910s.
- All renovations that Balboa Academy makes to the facilities are paid for entirely by Balboa Academy, without any assistance or reciprocal financial credit from the Ciudad del Saber or any other third party.
- Balboa Academy will remain in these facilities for another four years. Our goal between now and then is to purchase land not too far away and begin construction of a permanent Balboa Academy campus.
Balboa Academy Tuition Increase 2016-2017:
In order for Balboa Academy to continue to provide a high level of instructional quality for our students, as well as to build a facility that is better suited for learning, we need to raise our tuition and fees 10% for the 2016-2017 school year. The reasons for this are as follows:
- Investments in Technology: Over the past two years, Balboa Academy has invested over $300,000 in technological improvements. This includes the installment of 40 Smartboards and the purchase of more than 100 iPads that are available for classroom use from Pre-K through High School.
Facilities Improvements for Safety and Security:
In June and July 2015, we have invested over $400,000 in improving our existing facilities to make them safer and more comfortable for learning. This includes:
- The Dragon’s Den: This new area was designed to be a safe place for students to wait for their parents to pick them up. We have teachers supervising the area from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. We do not want students waiting on the benches in front of our schools after the offices close at 4 p.m. The indoor area is up and fully functional, and the outdoor roof and seating are still a work in progress!
- High School Renovations: Upgrades have been made to improve the Air Conditioning, Hallway spaces, and we have added two new classrooms to accommodate the increase in numbers of students. The fourth floor had a major makeover to improve the ceilings and lighting.
- Furniture Upgrades: In order to accommodate group learning and the use of technology in all classrooms, we have invested in desks large enough to accommodate laptops and cozy seating areas for students to work in small groups.
- Elementary Bathroom Renovations: All sinks in the elementary were replaced with newer models that automatically shut off, preventing accidental waste of water.
Higher Costs in Panama:
Buy Land, Build a New Campus:
The costs of renting our facilities from the Ciudad del Saber are no longer sustainable. We need to buy land and build a new school campus. We have been exploring closer options in addition to the Costa Sur site. Our rent prices, as stipulated in our contract with the Ciudad del Saber, are included below. Starting in 2016 we will no longer have use of the Pre-School facility because the Ciudad del Saber would like to turn the building into a commercial business. We are working on plans to keep the Preschool on our existing campus in order to maintain the high quality preschool program that we always offer.
Teacher Professional Development:
We understand that you place a high value on a great educational experience for your children, and that a raise in tuition is something that each family has to plan for accordingly. This 10% raise will take place for the 2016-2017 school year and has been approved by MEDUCA. I am available to meet with you regarding any questions or concerns.