Lisa Scullin is a spokeswoman for the Milton Hershey School
In 2014-15 members of the school’s leadership team, at the request of the Board, explored various possibilities which they identified to expand MHS’s mission in the future. The Board ultimately voted to expand the existing campus to serve hundreds more students in Hershey. Construction starts this month on 32 new student homes.
In addition to the Board’s decision to grow enrollment, we proposed introducing a program to provide greater support to our young graduates. The board approved the recommendation, and we have created a new division called Graduate Programs for Success to provide academic, career, and other support for our young graduates to better ensure their success after they leave MHS.
It is important to keep in mind who we serve. It is also important to keep in mind those obligations required by the school’s founder about how to serve the students enrolled. Children from poverty deserve the best education and care we can provide. They need extra support because of their backgrounds and the struggles which poverty brings.
The education we provide is comparable to the best private boarding schools in the nation. In addition, we provide everything middle-class families would typically provide, cost free.
A premier boarding school like MHS, offering similar academic programming/class size, charges students approximately $60,000 per year without providing all of these additional services. “All-in” costs at most private colleges reach $85,000. Our cost per student is $80,000. That includes costs not recognized by our peer schools such as extensive medical, dental, psychological and social work services for children/families, medications, sports, visual and performing arts and related costs, clothing, year-round transportation, career technical programming, technology expenses, etc. Given the complexity of the services and supports we provide to not just students, but families and young graduates, this is a very effective use of resources. * Because of intensive MHS supports, parents have been empowered to change their own lives and break the cycle of poverty for their family unit in many cases.
In addition, the school estimates that 60-70% of its student body has one or more physical or psychological impairments that may meet the ADA’s definition of a disability. Many of these are attributable to the backgrounds of poverty and need. I would point you to our white paper which breaks down medical, psychological, and dental costs as well as immunizations and medications for everything from asthma to cancer treatment.
It is responsible to continuously explore options to educate and care for as many children as possible who deserve a chance at a better life. Any consideration to pursue one of these options could be supported only if it could be accomplished without sacrificing the school’s core model and current programming. If and when the Board decides what is appropriate, we are confident they would always be respectful of our regulators and seek their approval as well as include our key stakeholders in the discussions.
* The cost per student you have focused on includes investment fees, depreciation, and college scholarships. Currently, MHS supports more than 500 young graduates in their ongoing effort to break the cycle of poverty and live fulfilling and productive lives.