we discuss how to deal with “Instability Markers,” streamline your school’s housekeeping services, and develop healthy learning environments for students.
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ISM periodically re-analyzes, reconfigures, and updates its list of Stability Markers. The ISM Stability Markers are in continual and widespread use in the private-independent school world as reliable guideposts in strategic planning and strategic financial planning.
As Board President or School Head, you may find it helpful to consider the Stability Markers’ opposite extremes—private-independent school practices that, from ISM’s perspective, are likely to contribute to “strategic instability.” This article may be especially useful in teaching situations, such as in your annual new-Trustee orientation or in presentations to constituents outside the Board and senior administration.
As Business Manager or Facilities Manager, you know that providing housekeeping services is not just about “cleaning.” It’s about how people are motivated to serve “customers.” The challenge for administrators is to provide consistent and continuing leadership to these employees, enabling them to deliver excellent service daily, while keeping an eye on the bottom line. If no one has communicated your housekeeping standards, this often creates confusion and misunderstanding among both your housekeeping staff and their “customers”—your school’s Board, faculty and staff, parents, and students.
In a previous article, we listed observable behaviors that collectively form an action premise from which each Headship develops. In this article, we consider the senior administrator position—those who report directly to the Head and collectively form the Leadership Team.
The essential expectations list is one of two criteria for administrator evaluation. The other criteria are objectives created from the annual administrative agenda. This agenda’s objectives change each year as the strategic needs of the school continue to evolve, as articulated through the Board’s strategic plan/strategic financial plan. The essential expectations, on the other hand, are a constant reflecting the observable behaviors that the School Head expects each member the Leadership Team to exhibit and the Head evaluates.
ISM has written much over the years about Head evaluation. We now update and further explain the basis for the employer/employee relationship between the Board of Trustees and the School Head.
An understanding of the critical distinction between the strategic plane and the operations plane resides at the heart of private-independent school governance. The Board lives on the strategic plane with its actions and focus encapsulated in the strategic plan/strategic financial plan. This vision of the school’s future, with its companion fiscally conservative assumptions, provides the guide rails to Board action through the annual Board agenda and to operations action through the annual administrative agenda. Thus, the strategic plane not only determines the school’s visionary future but, by direct implication, also determines the most important actions to take on the operations plane by the School Head and administration. The direction is inviolate—the Board decides the school’s direction and only the Board can change that direction. The School Head controls how to make that direction operational and has almost complete discretion over that, limited only by the strategic financial plan’s fiscal assumptions.
In ISM’s Advancement Model, we advocate strategically integrating admission, marketing communications, and development at the service of your school’s mission. This model facilitates a united function that inspires and manages the flow of resources into the school—recruiting and re-recruiting students and their families and inviting philanthropic investment.
In a previous article, we provided four factors to keep in mind when considering facilities planning.
- Curriculum does not drive facility needs.
- Environmental regulatory concerns and communications infrastructure require a flexible approach.
- Design matters to students, and their voice is important.
- Facilities must move from command and control (adult-centered) to multifunctional collaborative learning (student-centered).
We now expand these factors to inform key campus master development planning.
The ISM Stability Markers comprise outcomes of ISM Consultants’ internal studies that periodically address the question: What variables are associated most strongly, according to ISM data, with a private-independent school’s ability to sustain excellence? This article—a snapshot of the larger array—provides readers with a self-scored estimate of the more comprehensive, 18-item set of ISM Stability Markers. This is designed to be used by the School Head, Business Manager, or other senior administrators in developing a preliminary, yet thoroughly data-driven, portrait of your school’s organizational and financial positioning for the long run.
For you as a School Head, Human Resources Director, or an academic administrator, toxic teachers can be a puzzling phenomenon. Teachers, at the beginning of their careers, are typically:
- full of hope;
- excited about changing the world one child at a time;
- interested in—or even obsessive about—their subject material; and
- prone to moving every conversation (even those outside the school) to “what happened at school today.”
Independent School Management (ISM), the National Business Officers Association (NBOA), and Measuring Success have collaborated to update a study and methodology originated in 2006 by Measuring Success and repeated in 2011 by Measuring Success with ISM. These original studies suggested no statistical relationship between tuition increase and enrollment outcome. The current findings strengthen those studies in several ways.
The competition for philanthropic gifts, and a donor’s reason for giving, require a more complex and multifaceted balance. Advancement professionals need deeper insights into what motivates donors and prospects to give. Develop effective strategies to engage and bring them closer to your institution. Donors are vital for securing your school’s stability and success, and your relationships with them must be conducted with care and understanding. The Donor Cycle is a strategic approach to moving the donor into a closer relationship to the school. It is a sequence of processes and practices involved in establishing and renewing the connection of donors and their values with the school and its mission.
Private-independent school Admission Directors are finding recruiting prospective new families more and more challenging in an era in which new sources of educational competition (e.g., charter schools, magnet schools, and micro-schools) pour into the marketplace. To enhance referral enthusiasm among current families and, on occasion, outside third parties, some Admission Directors feel drawn to explore referral incentive programs. Others see the practice to be one that borders on being unethical.
In an increasingly competitive market of innovative public school programs, charter schools, online programs, and home schooling, private-independent schools are under more pressure than ever to prove their value and relevance to their constituents. ISM continually urges Boards and school leaders to critically evaluate their Purpose and Outcome Statements to ensure that they clearly communicate what sets the school apart.
Being “college preparatory” is no longer enough, if it is even worth mentioning at all. Almost all independent schools are college preparatory, as are most public schools, so preparation for the next education level is a basic expectation, not a difference-maker. Also, parents and students are beginning to question the value of college because of the enormous burden of student loans in an economy where there are no guarantees the investment will result in gainful employment. There is an increased sense that the traditional college education is failing to prepare students for life, and so just preparing students for college is an increasingly underwhelming proposition.
In the first article in this two-part series, we provided a review of the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) and Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). In Part Two, we take a look at the enrollment process, admission, on-boarding, and other important areas of potential risk attendant to your International Program.
International enrollment application processes can be more time-consuming than domestic applications. Increase your application fee, if needed, to cover the human resource hours and the postage costs of managing your international pool.1 Many reputable third-party brokers or commissioned based recruiters (as SEVIS classifies them) are available to assist with identifying mission-appropriate international enrollments, the cost of which is typically passed on to either the school or applying family, or both.
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