• In this issue of Ideas & Perspectives,

    we discuss ISM’s study on executive leadership, re-evaluating your school’s marketing messages, and scheduling your advisory program.

  • The most forward-thinking advisory letter for private-independent school leaders.

    More than 8,500 private school decision-makers find the answers to their schools’ administrative and governance matters in Ideas & Perspectives, our flagship advisory publication.

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Executive Leadership: The Relationships Between Predictability and Support, the School Head's Well-Being, and Faculty Culture

Vol. 42 No. 14

In the first two articles in this series, we shared the results of our 2016 study on executive leadership, well-being, and school performance. The study validated the centrality of a high-quality, charismatic, and flourishing executive leader in the school’s ability to drive the school’s success, including enrollment demand.2 In this third article, we answer the question, “What predicts high scores on executive leadership?”

Through the first two articles, we established that charismatic (but not excessively extroverted) leaders who guide schools with greater enrollment demand scored higher on our executive leadership measure. Of course, this assumes the school has a strategic plan and a strategic financial plan. In this article, we examine the factors that lead to high scoring on the executive leadership measure (Stability Marker No. 3). In other words, what are the major contributors to being a high-quality leader?

We Need New Evidence for Old Meta-Messages

Vol. 42 No. 14

Private-independent schools have the daunting task of persuading families to purchase what is available free through their public school system. Despite national perceptions that public schools system are “broken,” the annual Gallup/PDK poll finds that parents are happy with their local public schools.1 We can’t rely on distaste for public education to drive our enrollment. More specifically, many of our families live in the same neighborhoods as the highest-ranked public schools in their area. Quite obviously, we must attract and re-attract families to our mission. While each school nuances these messages, schools have approached this task by delivering the following meta-messages to communicate the value of an independent education.

Scheduling Supports Advisory Program Success

Vol. 42 No. 14

The advisory program can be a distinguishing feature among your school’s offerings, and a source of multiple benefits to your students and their families. Of course, it must be well-planned and effectively implemented. There’s also the question of how advisory activities will be scheduled. The success of your advisory program depends, in part, on how it is incorporated into the school day, week, and year. As the School Head, meet with your scheduler to go over your expectations and ensure the schedule supports the scope and excellence of the program.

The Head Support and Evaluation Committee: Technicalities

Vol. 42 No. 13

In an earlier article, “The Head Support and Evaluation Committee: An Update,” we stated that “the HSEC, as a Board Committee, is primarily concerned with the Board’s strategic objectives and the Head’s responsibilities in their successful achievement.” Consider now the HSEC’s membership, its charge, and its self-evaluation.

In staffing the HSEC, the Committee on Trustees should consider the School Head’s position as an executive and as the sole employee of the Board. The Head is responsible for all aspects of the school’s operations, from marketing to teaching Social Studies—without a peer in the school. Use the following chart to ensure the appropriate questions have been asked about the HSEC’s membership.

Developing the Annual Administrative Agenda

Vol. 42 No. 13

The annual administrative agenda delineates the tasks of the School Head and the Leadership Team (the senior administrators who report directly to the Head). A previous I&P article articulated the process for uncovering the operations responsibility in the Board’s strategic plan/strategic financial plan.* That is not the totality of what the School Head and Leadership Team are accountable for, however. This article, the third in the series, details how to develop the annual administrative agenda.

How to Jump Start a Stalled Fundraising Campaign

Vol. 42 No. 13

Many schools run capital campaigns and annual fund campaigns simultaneously. Capital campaigns are usually implemented over several years and are designed to increase capital assets such as new or improved facilities and/or growing endowment. Annual fund campaigns are repeated yearly and are most often created for enhancements for the current year. Balancing these two efforts requires clear goals, appropriate volunteer training, targeted donor solicitation, and a strategic sense of timing. A capital campaign, because of the size of the goal and the drive’s length, is more likely to falter than an annual campaign that in many schools has become habitual. Being prepared with “jump-starting” strategies can mean the difference between success and failure.

Review Your School's Capitalization Policy

Vol. 42 No. 13

As your school grows in size and complexity, you should review (or establish) accounting policies. Often overlooked is the school’s capitalization policy.

A capitalization policy sets guidelines determining which purchases you expense and which purchases you capitalize and then depreciate. It allows your school to match revenues more closely to the expenses associated with the use of those assets. By depreciating an asset, you recognize that it will provide value to your school’s operation for several years. It is easy to determine what constitutes an asset. Land, buildings, utility systems, kitchen equipment, and vehicles certainly qualify. Classroom furniture, computers, and athletic equipment, among others, may also fall into the asset category.

Primary Drivers of School Outcomes: Insights From Our Executive Leadership and Well-Being Study

Vol. 42 No. 12

ISM recently conducted a study of School Head leadership to extend our knowledge of executive leadership and investigate the relationship among our Tier 1 Stability Markers, School Heads’ characteristics and experience, and their well-being/flourishing. In a previous article, we re-introduced our approach to measuring executive leadership and described the general results and conclusions for the study. This article is the second in the series.

Developing the Annual Board Agenda: An Example

Vol. 42 No. 12

A previous I&P article provided an overview of the elements of agenda-making for the Board and the School Head. This article, the second in the series, details how to develop the annual Board agenda.

The annual Board agenda is one of the focal points in ISM’s data-informed approach to strategic Board structure and function. After your Board of Trustees and senior administration have developed a strategic plan/strategic financial plan that conforms to ISM criteria, you, as Board President, with advice and counsel from the Committee on Trustees (COT), will create an annual Board agenda that sets out the governance-level tasks for the upcoming year. Once the committee chairs have accepted their assignments along with their (written) committee charges and deadlines, the annual Board agenda can be finalized and introduced to the Board as a whole.

School Is Not an Equal Place

Vol. 42 No. 12

As School Head, you want every student to be successful. Each student and parent likely comes with the assumption that, if mission-appropriate, the child will “win” at the game of school. The school promises to deliver its mission to all students, not just most of them. As we consider how to deliver the mission with excellence to each student, there is a hidden assumption that the classroom is an equal opportunity environment. Exceptional governance practices (including strategic planning and strategic financial planning) and your actions as School Head in leading faculty are key components of sustaining future success.

Setting Your Annual Agenda

Vol. 42 No. 11

Setting the annual agendas by the Board President and School Head is a key skill for executing the strategic plan/strategic financial plan. No matter how great the strategic plan and strategic financial plan are, they remain inert and powerless unless they are annually tethered to an actionable process. Using annual agendas turns them into the difference-makers that move the school forward.

Healthy Learning Environments for Students

Vol. 42 No. 11

As Facilities Director, Business Manager, or Chair of the Building and Grounds Committee in a school that includes young children, your role has changed dramatically over the past decade. You must consider not just the safety and prestige of your buildings, but also its ability to support and impact student learning.

In this article, we explore research indicating what effective buildings can do to improve learning environments. This is not about innovative architecture but about the connection between light, sound, temperature, etc., and learning, what is known as internal environmental quality (IEQ).

Dealing With Hidden Inflation, 2017

Vol. 42 No. 11

As a member of the Board of Trustees, School Head, or Chief Financial Officer, you know that a decision to hold tuition flat for a year results in lost ground and places pressure on future budgets. Inflation quietly depletes your real income.

But it’s worse than you think.

Many schools use the Urban Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) to determine inflation year-to-year.1 However, the CPI-U does not reflect expenses in private schools, and may not reflect your state’s—or even your city’s—true rate of inflation. For example, the annual rates of inflation in San Francisco, San Diego, New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington DC are typically higher than most other cities in the country. Thus, the CPI-U should only serve as a base figure. There are compelling arguments for adjusting your tuition at a rate above the inflation rate in your school’s particular area.

Re-evaluate Your School’s Engagement With Alumni

Vol. 42 No. 10

ISM has consistently applauded schools’ efforts to continue to connect with students once they have graduated or left the school. While ISM has been skeptical about the willingness of alumni to give to their pre-collegiate institutions, that situation seems to be changing. Indeed, day schools are joining boarding schools in carefully cultivating and engaging their alumni.The result is willingness for alumni to volunteer, assist current students with networking opportunities and a marked increase in giving from this important constituent group.

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