Your Board of Trustees experiences little “down time,” constantly dealing with challenging issues, from Head evaluation and donor cultivation to crisis management and policy setting. The Board can easily lose sight of its primary responsibility—to uphold the essential character and integrity of the school, and to ensure that your school remains viable to serve the children of today’s students. The annual summer Board retreat provides time for a devoted effort for planning.
To make your current process more effective, ask and answer the following nine key questions to guide your thinking.
Considering our fragile national economy, it’s prudent to include a financial contingency plan for your school’s worst-case scenario in your strategic planning documents. While each school’s particular situation determines the plan’s specific details, there are common characteristics each private school should include. As Board President, charge an ad hoc committee to craft your plan. ISM suggests the following example for inclusion in your document.
In a previous issue of The Source for Trustees, we discussed the caveats of private school vouchers. Further research supports ISM’s position—that private schools should not look to government vouchers to balance their budgets or address enrollment issues.
Action minutes are a good habit to get into not only for Board sessions, but for all kinds of meetings—committee, management, faculty. Effective action minutes serve as a “to do” list. They define the task and who will carry it out, set a deadline, and include any pertinent suggestions for strategy—without stifling the individual’s or committee’s initiative. Consider the impact an action minute has in the following situations.
A family at the Montessori Children’s House of Durham (NC) had enrolled their daughter for first and second grade, but wavered on having her attend third grade. The parents were concerned about class size and the teacher time students received. The family eventually re-enrolled the girl, signing a tuition agreement that required the family to pay $12,610 in tuition for the upcoming school year.
Back in the summer of 2015, President Simon Newman of Mount St. Mary’s University developed a plan to improve the institution’s student retention numbers by culling 20–25 first-year students before the end of September. The federal government requires colleges and universities to submit the number of enrollees each semester, and the Mount’s cutoff date was September 25. The President’s office created a student survey to administer during freshman orientation, specifically designed to determine who to dismiss. The rationale was artificially to boost retention by 4%–5%.
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