Eastminster plans for next school year despite financial woes

CONYERS — A local private school is facing financial difficulties, but a fundraising event that is underway could avert the need to close its doors.

Eastminster School Headmaster Sue Troff announced to parents and staff on May 5 that the school must raise $197,000 through its annual fund, a capital raising event, by May 16. In addition to this revenue, the announcement stated that the school must obtain at least 120 student contracts for the upcoming school year. If these conditions are not met, Eastminster may have to close, Troff said on Friday.

“If we were to operate, we would need those two things,” Troff said in regard to the funds and student contracts. “If we don’t meet that goal, we cannot operate, because that is the minimum amount needed. If we don’t reach the goal, we can’t have school.”

As of Monday morning, Eastminster was more than halfway toward its goal, with about $120,000 raised through the annual fund and 96 student contracts for the 2014-15 school year. Money raised through the annual fund goes toward the daily needs of the school such as faculty salaries, campus maintenance and the purchase of supplies. A 501(c)(3) institution, Eastminster is a non-profit school with just under 140 students. Current tuition rates range anywhere from $9,472 to $12,146 per year, depending on grade level.

Students at Eastminster enjoy free field trips to destinations such as Zoo Atlanta and the historic district of Savannah, incorporating these adventures into their classroom curriculum. Troff went on to add that Eastminster focuses more on academics than athletics, with the school having no football team or stadium. Nonetheless, a football team may be in the school’s future, with its long-planned capital campaign program including a campus with various buildings and outdoor features. However, with current financial difficulties and the economic downturn of 2008, the capital campaign campus plan has been put on the back burner, she said.

Eastminster, which opened in 2004, spent its first few years operating at Conyers Presbyterian Church before moving to its current location on Lennox Road. The school started out with only early elementary grades, adding more grades as each year progressed, and currently serves all grades from kindergarten through 12th grade. Having one main building and six cabin classroom annexes, the school is able to maintain favorable student-teacher ratios, with its largest class and grade level containing just 18 students, while 10th and 11th grades each have only one student. Eastminster will graduate its first senior class on May 29 at Conyers Presbyterian, sending three students to the colleges of their choice.