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 New Board President

Volume 43 No. 7June 4, 2018

You, as newly elected Board of Trustees President, may assume that leadership of private-independent-school Trustees is similar to leadership in other organizational settings. There are indeed similarities with some other kinds of leadership roles, including these. A President brings her or his own “management style” to the post. This tone-setting role is present to some degree in any organization, depending on its exact purpose(s) and structure. A President selects and appoints those who will exercise second-level management and leadership within the Board. Any organization larger than, say, a half-dozen individuals, needs this kind of action from the designated leader. A private-independent school Board of Trustees President can sometimes strongly influence the direction of the larger organization—the school itself—from a strategic perspective. This is analogous to other governing body leadership contexts, both in for-profit and nonprofit settings.

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Enhance the Effectiveness of Your Financial Aid Committee

Volume 43 No. 6May 15, 2018

The Financial Aid Committee plays an integral role in your school’s strategic enrollment management operation. Taking a best practices approach ensures your financial aid decision-making strengthens (rather than undermines) your school’s fiscal position—and your ability to sustain mission excellence over time. When managed strategically, your financial aid process and decisions enhance the mission experience of every student enrolled at your school.

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The ISM X: The Fifth Iteration of the Stability Markers

Volume 43 No. 6May 15, 2018

The fifth iteration of the ISM Stability Markers has generated small—but necessary—alterations in the graphic representation (shown below), the ISM X™. These alterations center around changes in the scoring of the Strategic Board Assessment, which has become the Strategic Board Assessment II,2 the outcome of a two-year ISM study. This 15-item (Board self-scored) instrument, previously comprising four six-point Stability Markers (Letters A, B, C, and D) in the fourth iteration, has been transformed into a single 24-point Stability Marker in the fifth.

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Maintain a Complete and Accurate Head’s File

Volume 43 No. 6May 15, 2018

With any employer-employee relationship, your school must maintain paper and electronic files. Just as your school should have a policy on what is contained in an employee’s file and who will keep it, your Board must do the same for its sole employee—the School Head. Basic documents on payroll and benefits should be kept by the Business Office. However, the Head’s contracts, evaluations, and supporting documents (and other employment-related correspondence) should not be accessible to anyone in the school. Only the Board should see this confidential information. (Access to health records should be limited even further—perhaps only to the Board President.)

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The Whys and Hows of Implementing a Crisis Communication Plan

Volume 43 No. 5April 16, 2018

Thanks to smartphones, the Internet, and social media, the news cycle is now 24-7-365. Being prepared to communicate and respond during a crisis is more critical than ever. While most schools have adopted a Crisis Management Plan, far fewer have taken their preparedness to the next level—creating a Crisis Communication Plan. Although having both plans may seem redundant or unnecessary, there is an important difference between the two.

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New-Trustee Orientation

Volume 43 No. 5April 16, 2018

Your annual orientation session for the new Trustee should be grounded in your governance-level mission statement. ISM has for decades suggested that Boards of Trustees create a governance-level mission statement—a mission statement for the Board itself, not to be confused with the institutional mission statement. Such a governance-level statement, ISM has suggested, should read approximately as follows.

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Establish Best Practices for Managing Social Media Accounts

Volume 43 No. 4April 11, 2018

Ideally, all of your school’s “official” social media accounts run directly through your Marketing Communications Office and are managed by your in-house staff. However, it may seem that your school’s social media “cat” is already out of the bag, with members of every club, team, and student group at your school launching its own Facebook group or Twitter account.

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The ISM Stability Markers: The Fifth Iteration

Volume 43 No. 4April 11, 2018

The ISM Stability Markers’ fourth iteration comprised 18 variables, each of which, according to ISM’s internal reviews, correlated with private-independent schools’ ability to sustain excellence over time. In the fifth iteration shown following, our revised perspectives have resulted in 15 Stability Markers. Benchmarks, weighting, points of reference, and methods of calculation have been updated to conform to ISM’s current position on each marker.

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