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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Updated September 02, 2017 |
Outsourcing Your Boarding Program
If your school has placed boarding students with families, you might want to consider out-sourcing your boarding program. It is one way of adding value to your day school's offerings.
Roanoke Catholic School

Editor's Note:  I asked Stephen Alexander of Wilson International to explain how out-sourcing a boarding program works. ~Rob Kennedy

1. Tell us about Wilson International, its history and the services it provides for schools.

Wilson International aims to be on the forefront of global trends in private preparatory school education, providing a housing solution to schools who recognize the value of increased diversity and academic caliber of their prospective students. The company was founded just this year, specifically for our first program in Roanoke, Virginia. Beyond providing a much-needed housing solution to our affiliate schools, Wilson cherishes the opportunity to help nurture thoughtful and competent global citizens, within the framework of our affiliate schools' mission statements. Here in Roanoke, Wilson provides 16 rooms and a total of 48 beds to its affiliates in a recently restored historical building in the heart of downtown. The building is completely updated with a fully secured access control program, designated fiber optic internet service, laundry facilities, and a full-time chef. In addition to room and board, Wilson provides a residential life program for its students and is also creating a recruiting branch of the company to assist day schools that need a jump-start in their international admission goals. 

2. What prompted North Cross School and Roanoke Catholic School to add a residential option to their programs?

Both schools had engaged in specific and strategic initiatives to increase the diversity and caliber of their prospective students in the last seven years. Because

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Updated July 11, 2017 |
IT Infrastructure For The Small School
Suggestions for the small school's IT infrastructure and services.

Disclaimer: I am writing this article about IT infrastructure with small private schools in mind. I am basing my suggestions on my more than thirty years working as an IT professional in private schools and selling technology equipment and services to them. It is my hope that these talking points will save you some money and give you and your staff some peace of mind so that you can focus on the important job you have, namely, teaching your students. ~Rob Kennedy, MCT, CSE

Most medium to large-sized schools will have professional IT staff on their payroll. But, while small schools need professional IT advice just as much, if not more, than the larger schools do, finding the money to pay for the needed expertise is always a major challenge in a small school. Here then are some practical, low-cost solutions to keep your important data secure.

1. Put all your applications and data in the cloud.

This is probably the least expensive way for a small school to deal with securing your important data. For purposes of this essay, I define important data as the confidential personal and academic information which your families and students have entrusted to you. Important data also includes the school's financials and business correspondence.

Ten or fifteen years ago you would have been told that you have to have a server and a complicated network infrastructure to keep everything secure. Nowadays you can keep everything secure in the cloud. Yes, literally there is an app for that.

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Updated August 24, 2017 |
Summer Checklist For The Marketing Team
Summer is an excellent time to spend a couple of days reviewing your marketing initiatives. It is important to see what's working and what isn't working.

Summer is usually a good time for the marketing team to review the year to date and plan for the year ahead. Strictly speaking, summer doesn't begin in most private schools until school is out. That can be anytime between the middle of May and middle of June, although some schools finish classes at the end of June. In any case, this is usually an excellent time to spend a couple of days reviewing your marketing initiatives. It is important to see what's working and what isn't working.

I like to think of marketing from the perspective of the home-owners I used to represent back in the 80s when I was a real estate broker in the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut. I would explain to them how important it was to view their home and surroundings just as a potential buyer would. Buyers see things which you are so accustomed to seeing that you don't see them. The things which you do not see objectively could well be deal breakers. The same principle is true in marketing your school. Certain things which you take for granted or think are not important could be deal-breakers for potential families looking at your school.

Against that backdrop, let's took a look at each of your marketing tools as well as your overall campaign.

1. Your website

Think of your school's website as the front door to your school. The entrance to your school is warm and inviting, isn't it? Perhaps it is impressive, even imposing. The

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Published April 05, 2017 |
Remarketing Your School
Digital marketing is effective and fairly straight-forward to implement. Here is an overview of remarketing, an important component of any state-of-the-art marketing program.

Marketing a private school is one of the tasks which can be daunting for school administrators of the small to medium-sized school.  That is mainly because most heads of school have as their principal duty raising money. That responsibility is a full-time job by itself. Naturally, heads of school have a host of administrative duties as well. Moving down the organization chart, private school business managers have to keep the books balanced, manage the cash flow and deal with the overall management of the physical plant. Academic deans manage the teachers and what happens in the classroom. As a result, the admissions office ends up with the marketing brief, such as it is, in smaller schools. Most of the time marketing in the small school consists of making sure the website is updated, regular posts to the social media pages are done, and an admissions catalog is produced annually.

This state of affairs contrasts sharply with large private schools which can afford to hire the professional marketing staff needed to promote their schools effectively.

What is remarketing?

So, I can just imagine you reading this and thinking that you barely have time to market your school, much less remarket it. Anyway, what exactly is remarketing

You and I are targets of companies' remarketing efforts every time we surf the web. For example, I was looking at bread machines the other day. After I left Amazon, I went to The Guardian to check the headlines and then went on to Facebook. Each

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Updated October 11, 2016 |
Understanding Enrollment Agreements
Attorney Sara Goldsmith Schwartz answers my questions and provides some general guidance regarding best practices for enrollment agreements.

Editor's note: 

I asked Attorney Sara Goldsmith Schwartz, whose "practice is focused on the critical issues facing school administrators and leadership," to answer my questions and provide some general guidance regarding best practices for enrollment agreements. This article is intended for the information of owners, administrators, and trustees of small to medium size private schools. ~ Rob Kennedy

The relationship between parents, students and the school is determined by contract law. Can you tell us what that means?
 
The relationship between parents, students, and the school is based on a lot of documents, including the student/parent handbook, the code of conduct, the enrollment agreement and more.  The enrollment agreement, however, is the only legal contract, and it memorializes the relationship between the parents, students, and the school, binding the parties to the terms and conditions laid out in the agreement.  The agreement assists schools in collecting tuition and fees in cases of non-payment and in assessing late fees in cases of late payment. However, a comprehensive agreement addresses far more than tuition and fees.

This short clip explains why contracts are important legal documents.

 

How can a professionally written enrollment agreement prevent litigation in the future?
 
A properly drafted enrollment agreement is a cornerstone of a school’s risk management strategy.  For instance, it can help deter parents from bringing claims against the school, as well as help the school prevail on such claims.
 
An enrollment agreement that comports with best practices and applicable

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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.