Select Page

Challenges in Establishing Coptic Schools in the United States

The United States Government supports only public educational schools. Private schools are responsible for their own finances. The cost of private schools is usually shared by the students’ families in the form of tuition and donations or fundraising in addition to the financial support of the alumni and the parish or religious institution to which they belong. The government estimates the cost per student to be about $8,000-$12,000 per year. This is a large amount for parents to pay for their children’s education. Hence there is a need for outside resources.

Other countries have different systems for financing educational institutions. For example, Australia covers all private and public schools with certain conditions and requirements. Canada varies from province to province. I lived in Canada for several years where a portion of the property tax goes to educational facilities, either public or parochial schools (mostly Catholic) as specified by the tax payer.

Therefore, it is difficult to finance a private school in the U.S.A. without an extensive outside resource. For example, the total cost for a small school of about 100 students would be about half a million dollars or more annually. Most of the expenses go to teachers and other personnel, equipment, and supplies in addition to the usual overhead such as the building, utilities, insurance, etc.

Another aspect of importance is the quality of education. A school’s reputation evolves over time through the success and achievement of its graduates when competing with others. So the first many years in the life of a new school can almost be considered experimental. Thus, many parents concerned about the future of their children are reluctant to send their children to a new, ‘untested’ school. The question of whether the teachers are Egyptian or American is important for several reasons. These include language proficiency, academic qualifications, and strict business ethics which may be an issue with some Egyptians. Add to the above, distances in Los Angeles and surrounding counties as the Copts are geographically spread out with small concentrations in certain areas but not enough to fill a school locally. Transportation is also important. Hence, the establishment of one or more schools should be examined by experts in education, finance, management and others.

The vision for Coptic schools is in place, but the matter needs intensive research, commitment, and above all, prayers.

Posted by Fr. Moses Samaan

July 17, 2012