Running a Private School

Get help and guidance on running a private school. Find guidance and resources related to administration, fundraising and marketing. Explore strategic plan development, creative fundraising ideas and the latest technology uses in marketing.
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Douglas Halladay heads The Halladay Group, a consulting firm which specializes in all aspects of private school operations. We asked him how to advise a board of trustees on a headmaster search. His answers follow.
 
We aggressively seek candidates for you who combine strong administrative skills and outstanding management abilities with dynamic leadership experience. Included below is the model that we utilize.

Step 1: Initial Meeting

During our first meeting with the client, we review your organization regarding the position to be filled. We also seek to understand the organization's environment, which includes learning about the culture, norms, philosophy, history, work atmosphere, and personalities of the people and community this person will work for and with, as well as coming to know what causes individual success or failure at this organization and thoroughly understanding the vision of the organization. If confidentiality allows, we spend time with the supervisor and peers of the position in order to determine the management's style and personality. Since our goal is to find someone in whom the community will have confidence, both in ability and in style, this part of the process is crucial.
 

 

Step 2: Position Profile

HEG next prepares a Position Profile that describes the client organization, details the nature of the position, the key issues facing the new leader, and the qualities and experience possessed by the ideal candidate. This document, once approved by the client, serves as the primary instrument to communicate the opportunity during . . .read more
You have spent a year as trustee of St. Etheldreda's. You have attended all the meetings. Recently you were appointed to the finance committee. The nagging question keeps chewing at you. "How do we know that our employees aren't stealing from us?" After all, hardly a day goes by without yet another report of some trusted employee stealing from one organization or another.
 
You simply have to ask these tough questions of your business manager and your auditor.

1.   Does one person have control over all of your accounting functions?
2.   Are two signatures required on checks over a pre-determined amount - say, $500?
3.   Are checks ever pre-signed?
4.   Are your bank accounts consolidated so that your book keeping accurately reflects the school's true financial position?
5.   Is there petty cash lying around?
6.   Are different people assigned to the deposit and account reconciliation functions?
7.   Do you have a purchase order system?
8.   Does your committe review expenses and supporting vouchers carefully and frequently?
9.   Does an outside auditor review your books annually?
10. Do you run background checks and speak to references before you hire?
 

Insist that your school be run like a business
Some schools find it difficult to implement standard business practices. Even when they do, they can find it even more difficult to stick to those practices. Be careful of the trusted old employee who's been there forever and resists your updated business procedures. Reassigning him or her to some other function and . . .read more
Your school needs dependable hardware. It needs hardware which will have many uses and also increase productivity. Whether you are in the market for projectors, white boards, a remote KVM switch, you need the best. Use these suggestions as a starting point in your evaluation process. The product links take you to Amazon.com which usually has the most competitive deals available.

 

Dymo 69110 LabelWriter

 

This little printer is worth its weight in gold. Use it to label just about anything. Great for printing barcode labels for all your valuable classroom equipment.
 
Manufacturer's Description:
The Dymo 69110 LabelWriter 400 Turbo is the perfect companion for any professional who prints labels frequently. It is ideal for creating labels for envelopes, packages, files, barcodes, and even postage stamps. It has a sleek, compact design (it measures just 5 inches by 7 inches) and is easy to fit on a desk. Connecting to your computer via USB, the LabelWriter prints directly from most office-oriented programs, such as Microsoft Word, Outlook, WordPerfect, ACT! and more. It is incredibly fast, as well, able to print up to 55 labels at 300 dpi per minute. It also uses no ink or toner, making it a low-maintenance solution for all your label-printing needs.
MacBook Air
So thin you can slip it into a manilla envelope. Elegant. More than adequate for . . .read more
Keeping in touch with your graduates is not easy these days. In the old days you sent a chatty snail mail letter to your graduates two or three times a year. It was full of news about marriages, grad school, jobs, and so on. Of course, it always had updates and information about goings on at school, sports results and a word from your favorite teachers. Those kind of newsletter mailings to alumni still go out. If you can afford them, your older graduates will most definitely appreciate them.
 
Printed mailings have been largely supplanted by interactive school web sites where graduates can log on and keep in touch with their classmates whenevr and wherever they choose.
 
Most alumni relations staff realize that their most recent classes don't stay in touch in the same ways their older graduates do. Snail mail and printed materials are fine for the class of '70 and earlier. Even Web portals may only be effective for the classes prior to '00. Our recent grads are a completely different beast.
 
The classes from 2001 onwards are the text, cellphone, YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook crowd. They are all about social networking. Put a class reunion on YouTube and the response will be tremendous. When one of your alums creates a group on a social networking site, it will invariably draw other alums. They all love keeping in touch, but will invariably insist on doing so on their terms, electronically.
 

 
So, what is a harried . . .read more
Safe schools are everybody's concern these days. Years ago you worried about keeping the dormitory doors locked at night and making sure the trip to New York City was properly chaperoned. It was so simple.

Now parents, teachers and students have to deal with cyber-security, stalkers, substance abuse, suicide and a host of other really tough issues. How does a school community cope with safety? Let's take a look.
 

Improve your communications
In a very small school (100 students or less) you might be able to get away with the old-fashioned telephone tree where one person calls five others and so on. The problem with this method of alerting the community is that there are always a few people who don't get called. Install a web-based notification system and most of your worries will be over. Web-based notification systems use text messages, email and web sites to communicate news instantly to every member of your community. Whether the news is a weather-related closing or an accident involving one of your teams, it is received instantly. You can alert your community to whatever the bad news is before it hits the media.


Improve your training
Pretending issues don't exist is simply stupid and irresponsible. It also exposes your school to amazing amounts of legal liability. Every school operates in loco parentis. Don't take that responsibility lightly.

Hold seminars for every member of your community on the big issues such as sexual harrassment, hazing . . .read more
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Running a Private School

Administrative

Here you'll find information on the administrative side of running a private school. We'll cover strategic plan development, state regulations, human resources and school safety. Learn more about the obstacles of taking over a struggling school, get tips on hiring a headmaster, and receive expert advice on dealing with bad press.

Fund-raising

Private schools often need to be creative when it comes to funding. This section provides tools, tips and resources on fundraising. Learn more about supporting your school, how to handle major gifts, and why keeping in touch with graduates can benefit your budget.

Marketing and Technology

Advances in technology have changed the way businesses market themselves. This section provides tips on social media marketing, information on the latest technology being used and SEO basics for private schools.