How to Announce a New Strategic Financial Plan
Vol. 16 No. 5
The holiday season is behind us, a new year is beginning, and you have big tasks on the horizon.
Chances are your team is in the final stages of completing next year’s financial plan. It’s now your job to orchestrate announcing next year’s plans—along with any accompanying changes to tuition and fees—to the school community.
It can be difficult to share this news, and you may wonder about the best way to approach this announcement.
What to Avoid
In ISM's experience, a large-group setting, such as bringing all families together for a "town hall meeting" one evening, is a dangerous format for presenting plans that have financial implications.
Even one person who disagrees with your perspective can cause unrest and turn the narrative into a school-versus-parents situation. At a time when you need families to be most excited about the school’s future, it’s never a good idea to allow a sense of unease to creep in.
We have also seen attempts to tiptoe around the financial impact of a new plan for individual families. We believe this is a misstep as well.
You have a responsibility to speak openly and plainly to parents about what your plans mean financially to them. Give them the full picture.
How to Announce a New Plan
So, how can you present your financial plan to the school community in a way that informs constituents, encourages support, and maintains control over how your message is received?
We recommend what we call the “neighborhood visit.” These still take place at the school, but allow your team to meet with small groups of parents to share your plans, while building and nurturing personal relationships. There still may be naysayers, but this small setting allows you to work one-on-one to address their concerns.
Disclose your financial plans in detail during each of these meetings, including tuition and tuition-assistance gradients. Hide nothing from the participants.
Providing each family with the specifics of the school’s future and the costs that relate to them will enable them to plan accordingly. This courtesy strengthens the school’s relationships with its families, creating mutual trust.
This inclusiveness also ties into community building, including parent relations, student retention, and philanthropy. By emphasizing the important role parents play in the community, you invite them to understand the school’s institutional future and how they can continue to be a part of it.
Here are some tactical tips for setting up neighborhood visits.
- Invite every parent to attend one of the neighborhood sessions in writing. How you group them is up to you—could be by grade level, location, or some other factor. Consider following up with a call or email to ensure attendance.
- Create a three- or four-person team to represent the school at each meeting. This team should include the School Head, a Board member, a teacher, and perhaps another administrator or faculty member. Team members can rotate, but you, as School Head, should attend every session.
- Appoint your most effective presenter to lead each session. This doesn’t have to be the Head.
- Distribute reader-friendly summaries of your plan to each meeting attendee. Also have copies of your full strategic plan and its strategic financial attachment available.
- Emphasize that you intend to lose no students for financial reasons when you implement this new plan. Present your tuition-assistance gradient along with your projected tuition gradient to drive this point home.
Consider the neighborhood visit as a means to share your new plan effectively, while building relationships and settling concerns in a tight-knit and personal setting.
Additional ISM Resources:
The Source for Business and Operations Vol. 14 No. 6 Providing Financial Information to Parents
The Source for School Heads Vol. 11 No. 8 What Do You Know About Financial Reporting?
Additional Resources for ISM Members:
I&P Vol. 36 No. 1 MidYear Financial Reports and Your Strategic Financial Plan
I&P Vol. 36 No. 3 Your Strategic Financial Plan: Expenditure Control for the Long Run