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ISM has written a number of times about its tripartite classification system for examining a private-independent school’s marketing platform. In simplest terms, the classification and its descriptors read as follows.
- Price/value: We offer a transformational (nearly always religious) experience for your child at a cost you can afford.
- Product: We offer the best academic “product” (graduate) in our market area.
- Process: We offer “more” for your child (more electives; more levels of electives; more teams; more levels of teams; more individual attention, and/or a unique pedagogy) than others in our market.
The relationship that you, as the Development/Advancement Director, have with your School Head can be a complicated and confusing one. There are five major reasons for this.
- Few Heads have any background in development. They tend to reach their position because of their academic background, not development experience.
- Few development people, on the other hand, have much background in education. They typically come from the nonprofit sector, or they start as parent volunteers and graduate to become staffers, with little formal training in the nuances of fund raising at private-independent schools.
The Board of Trustees holds you, the School Head, ultimately accountable for the prudent fiscal management of the school. You, in turn, rely on your Business Manager to shoulder much of the responsibility for the school’s fiscal affairs, given your plethora of responsibilities. Having a strong, trusted partner in this area makes it possible for you to devote more of your time and attention to other areas of school operation.
Even though the Board holds you accountable for the school’s overall fiscal management, the Business Manager is typically viewed by your Board as having special knowledge or expertise in this area. In addition, the Business Manager is the one member of your Management Team who is in frequent contact with the Treasurer and other members of your Board.
Responsible stewardship of your school’s investment funds resides in a clearly articulated and regularly monitored investment policy. This responsibility is the same whether you have a modest endowment or one that would rival that of a major college or university. The investment policy consists of two distinct aspects—an endowment policy and a treasury policy. The endowment policy concerns long-term investment strategies and policies. The treasury policy articulates the investment parameters for funds that you invest for only short periods of time to cover operating and capital needs. The short-term investment or treasury policy should focus on providing sufficient liquidity and safety for operating cash while maximizing yield.
The School Head is the sole employee of the Board. Management of the Head’s compensation is a high priority, and the Board must be fully conversant about trends in Head compensation. Only then can the Board determine what adjustments are needed to ensure that the school retains the Head, or to enhance its ability to be competitive in its next Head search. Trustees must educate themselves about the marketplace and understand the complexities of the School Head’s job.
ISM surveyed a random sample of I&P subscriber schools concerning compensation for faculty and administrators. This article focuses on the survey results regarding the salaries of School Heads at our participating day schools.
School Heads should determine the compensation package that will recruit and retain the best Business Manager possible. Having the right person in this position, one who is capable of covering multifaceted tasks that call for a variety of skills (finance, human resources, facilities management), is crucial in providing the School Head with the support needed.