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FDA’s future secure

In tough economic times, Butler County’s sole private school is “going strong,” says its newest chairman of the Fort Dale Academy board, Calvin Poole.

“Financially, we are in good shape,” Poole said.

“We are just wrapping up our Capital Campaign fundraiser, and we’ve brought in an estimated $150,000 through that. We also hope to be able to give our teachers a modest and much-deserved pay increase this year.”

David Brantley, headmaster of Fort Dale Academy, echoed Poole’s sentiments as the school prepares to begin a new school year August 20.

“I know there has been a lot in the news lately about some of the private schools in Montgomery having financial problems, but that is not the case here,” Brantley said.

“We have managed our money well and we are excited about going back to school in August with nearly 500 students on campus.”

Enrollment at the K-3-through-12 school has taken a slight dip, Brantley said, largely due to attrition with a large graduating class in 2008.

Tuition rates for students at FDA will be going up by $10 a month.

“We are working to keep our tuition at a very affordable rate. We will continue to offer the same quality, college preparatory education we are known for,” Brantley said.

“The fact is our students’ average SAT scores exceed both the national average and the AISA average. It’s a strong indicator of our commitment to academic excellence.”

Poole said while the methods and technologies of teaching had changed in the 40 years of the school’s existence, “the general philosophy of Fort Dale has remained unchanged.”

“We want to give our students an outstanding classical education which will prepare them for college and to take leadership roles in the community,” Poole said.

“I am proud to say we have a zero percent drop-out rate and 97 percent of our graduates go on to some type of higher education. Our number-one goal is to continue doing what we’ve done successfully for all those years, in a safe, disciplined atmosphere.”

Poole said he also wants to raise awareness of the positive impact the school has on the community.

“In terms of character building of our students; the number of our students who come back home to open businesses, to practice their professions and give back to the community, and the significant impact on our local economy – we do make a positive difference in this community,” Poole said.

The school currently employs approximately 50 people with an annual payroll of $1.3 million. Poole said continuing upgrades to existing facilities and equipment would allow the school to keep up with the latest technology.

In terms of athletics, a new sports complex is being built across the street from the school for baseball and softball, with tennis courts in the long-term plans, Poole said.