Notes from Kate Curtin Lindsey’s talk—1/28/10

School Survival Guide—Lessons Learned

--longest lasting recession since the 1920’s—lag on any substantial improvement
--average parent income in independent schools--$250,000
--Accurately Forecasting the Financial Climate
--no real recovery will come for 5 years
--this is a crisis for schools—more requests for aid, more delinquent parents
--drive increasing for charter schools, parochial schools, home-schooling
--pool of students matriculating in college gradually decreasing from 2009 on
--annual giving down 10%

--Assessing External Conditions
--international applications (Korea, Japan) are down
--schools must educate parents about making schools their number one charitable
giving priority
--schools must do an audit of classroom giving requests—parents get 60 requests
per year independent of development office requests
--Exercise: What would you do if your school’s enrollment shrank by 10%? 20%? 30%?
--market external programming and its value
--marketing and branding will be the number one factor for future school success
--Exercise: poll administrators, faculty, students, parents, alums
1) 6 words that come to mind to describe school
2) 2 characteristics that set the school apart
3) 10 words or less—school’s mission
--use this information to inform marketing and branding
--marketing strategies—print, video, wet
--schools can buy the IP address that puts the school’s website at the top of the
page when a Google search is conducted

--Marketing & Branding
--put in personnel handbook—work produced by employees of school is property
of school
--capitalize on areas of expertise

--Training Faculty & Students about Development
--establish parent/student Senior Class Gift Committee
--educate students about school budget

--Administrative Leadership
--100 independent school heads are retiring annually
--turnover for school headship averages every 5 years
--transition planning—identify school’s Achilles heel; Legacy Report

--in the USA, 24% of population is Hispanic; underrepresented minority in
independent schools
--Are schools user-friendly to constituents?
--aim for faculty/staff diversity to mirror student population
--be inclusive—there’s an entire subset of school employees that faculty often
reflect a hierarchical attitude about (staff/maintenance)
--be transparent—faculty and staff are very nervous these days
--establish affinity groups—Faculty of Color, GSA, Faculty Parents, etc…
--subsidize use of mass transit where available
--balance benefits where faculty are—childcare, retirement, housing, sabbatical
--provide legal resources
--health clubs, financial counseling, 5 Wishes (instructions for elderly,
incapacitated and end-of-life decisions)
--computer loan programs
--open and honest discussions about school’s budget and goals for compensation
--in-service days that are not curriculum related (understanding stock market/
investing; retirement planning; wills; 529’s and college financing, etc…)
--social events that celebrate faculty and staff
--LISTEN: have an open-door policy

--Financial Modeling
--personnel benefits (60-70% of school costs)
--consolidate/eliminate programs (use Board for political cover)
--share resources with other schools—specialists (counselors, etc…), language
teachers, etc…
--form a healthcare consortium (“The only way independent schools are going to
survive mounting healthcare costs in the coming years is if they band together”)
--Financial Aid—rising 10-15% annually
--institute preference policy—siblings, current families, faculty, etc…
--schools are beginning to phase out tuition remission
--identify “hidden” costs—diagnostic testing, tutoring, other programs
--physical plant—debt services and depreciation of facilities
--technology should be 5% of budget—schools should band together for licensing
--auxiliary programs—after school, etc…

Random Take-away thoughts:
--Use the competitive advantage of collaboration and consortium-building to mitigate looming financial challenges
--Rule shift for staffing: from 4 sections to 65 students (may require 5 sections); 3 preps
--have US faculty shadow LS faculty for a day
--have faculty shadow students for a day
--Early Out Plan for senior faculty:
1) offer final year’s salary spread out over 2-3 years; healthcare (addresses two
greatest fears for faculty facing retirement/moving on)
2) provide a 90 day window where faculty can meet with financial planner (at
school’s expense)
3) 2 years prior, establish rigorous evaluation mechanism with emphasis on
--faculty who take the offer are leaving under positive conditions; no lawsuits;
can return regularly to share with school their new skills/avocations