Ideas & Perspectives

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Image of Ideas and Perspectives Newsletter on a Laptop

Learn practical strategies to handle emerging trends and leadership challenges in private schools.

No matter if you’re a School Head, Admission Director, Development Director, Board member, or any other private school administrator—Ideas & Perspectives, ISM’s premier private school publication, has strategic solutions for the pervasive problems you face.

  • Tuition not keeping pace with your expenses? In I&P, explore how to use strategic financial planning to create your budget and appropriately adjust your tuition.
  • Enrollment dropping off? Discover how to implement the right admission and enrollment management strategies that engage your community—and fill your classrooms.
  • Trouble retaining teachers? Learn how you can best support your teachers using ISM’s Comprehensive Faculty Development framework. Your faculty members will become more enthusiastic about their roles—which ultimately improves student outcomes.
  • Fundraising campaigns not as successful as you’d hoped? Implement ISM’s practical advice and guidance to build a thriving annual fund, construct an effective capital campaign, and secure major donors—no matter your community size or location.
  • Not sure how to provide professional development—for you and your staff? Learn ways to develop and fund a successful professional development strategy. You can improve teacher-centered satisfaction and growth, which in turn strengthens student-centered learning.
  • Problematic schedule? You can master the challenges of scheduling with the help of ISM’s practical advice, based on our experience with hundreds of schools and our time-tested theories.
  • And so much more.

I&P has shared targeted research, up-to-date insight, and sound theory with school leaders since 1975. More than 8,500 private school decision-makers find the answers to their schools’ administrative and governance matters in our advisory letter. We give you the strategic answers you need.

As an ISM Silver or Gold member, you not only receive issues online and in print 16 times a year, but you have access to more than 600 articles in our web archive. Need help? It’s at your fingertips! Learn more and sign up for ISM's membership here. 

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See the articles from our latest issue of Ideas & Perspectives.

The Parent Association: Your Partner in Community Engagement

Volume 44 No. 11September 3, 2019

A key to supporting a productive learning environment for your students and faculty is the partnership your school creates with your parents. One way that partnership plays out is through the volunteer efforts of your parents, often formalized through the work of the school’s Parent Association. Your school depends on parent volunteers to participate in a wide array of activities throughout the year, ranging from celebratory and community-building events to service-learning collaborations and parent education workshops. A Parent Association can actively engage volunteers in various roles and levels of engagement, based on each volunteer’s ability to participate. These volunteer roles are invaluable for boosting your school’s ability to realize its mission.

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The Impact of Predictability and Support on Your Recruitment Outcomes

Volume 44 No. 11September 3, 2019

ISM has long advised School Heads about the strongly positive correlation between student and teacher perceptions of predictability and support and their enthusiasm, satisfaction, and performance. While the correlation has not been tested among parents, it is logical to infer that students and parents greatly benefit from a predictable and supportive admission process—from the moment of early exploration or inquiry through enrollment and matriculation.

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Dealing With Hidden Inflation, 2019

Volume 44 No. 11September 3, 2019

As a Trustee, School Head, or Chief Financial Officer, you know that a decision to hold tuition flat for a year or more results in lost financial ground and places pressure on future budgets. Inflation quietly depletes your real income and your school may lapse into a cash-negative situation. How can you keep this from happening?

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How to Maintain the Status of Student Visas

Volume 44 No. 10August 12, 2019

As many private-independent schools build and bolster international programs, properly retaining those international, nonimmigrant students already enrolled is a critical element of enrollment management. Schools therefore have a vested interest in ensuring their international students maintain status of their student visa. 

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Five Key Performance Indicators for Private-Independent Schools

Volume 44 No. 10August 12, 2019

As the Marketing Communications Director, you understand that second only to word-of-mouth, your website is your most important marketing tool. Therefore, you may be investing a considerable amount of time and money in enhancing your website while simultaneously moving away from traditional and print marketing tactics. One of the best parts about shifting to a comprehensive digital strategy is the ability to measure the efficacy of your efforts.

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The Case for Publishing Tuition on Your Website

Volume 44 No. 10August 12, 2019

With the help of search engines, social media, and school review sites, prospective parents conduct intensive research and make educated comparisons about your school and its competitors before they ever contact the Admission Office. If they do call your Admission Office directly, it is likely that, based on their research, they believe your school is a good “fit” for their child and want to confirm this belief by visiting your campus. In other words, the family that scours your website and follows up with a phone call or campus tour has self-identified as a qualified lead and is undoubtedly worthy of your time and attention.

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Building and Maintaining Cash Reserves

Volume 44 No. 10August 12, 2019

ISM’s number one Stability Marker is cash reserves, and it has been continually ranked in the top two of correlates for a school’s long-term sustainability over a period of decades. The technical definition for ISM’s Stability Marker for “cash reserves” is actually a formulaic mix of cash reserves, debt, and endowment. A school’s high score on this means there is excess cash, at levels of 25% /or more of the total operating budget, and low (or no) debt. 

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Review Your School’s Employee Infectious Disease Policy

Volume 44 No. 9July 22, 2019

A rumor spreads at Exempli Gratia Academy (our fictional K–12 day school) that one of the employees has tested positive for Zika virus. Bombarded with questions, the School Head turns to the infectious disease policy in the employee handbook—and finds it all but worthless. The situation spurs the Leadership Team to take a look at this specific item as the first step in a full-scale policy review.

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Board-Faculty Relationships: 10 Do’s and Don’ts

Volume 44 No. 9July 22, 2019

Teacher A: “Our Board members are never here at school, so they have no idea what we do. How can they possibly understand what they should be doing on the Board?” Teacher B: “I know! And none of them has ever been a teacher! Why are they on the Board in the first place?” Have you overheard...

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