Signs that your school might be failing don't suddenly appear all at once like a flashing neon sign. Instead, they appear gradually over weeks, months, and years. I am targeting small private schools with these remarks and suggestions with the hope that you will see telltale signs of concern long before they become major troubles.
As you and your board of trustees review the list which I have set out below, I would suggest scoring each item on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the low end, and 10 the top. So, for example, as you look at your enrolment data for the past 5 years, if the trend shows a deterioration in enrolment, you would score that item 5 or less. And so on. Then tackle the items on the list which need the most attention. The following video discusses signs that a business is in trouble. Many of these will apply to a private school which is, after all, a business.
Let's start with enrollment. Filling your school's seats is essential for balancing your budget. If you are having trouble doing that, then you need to find out why you are not able to fill all your seats. If you are a seasoned enrolment professional or have one on your board, then seek his advice and follow it. Enrollment professionals will look at a host of things which impact filling your seats. Among them will be determining what market your
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 made many changes which impact charities and not-for-profit organizations such as private schools. Large private schools have expert tax advice at their disposal, as well they should. However, small private schools may not have a fulltime accountant on their staff. The point of this article is to encourage the administrators and trustees of small schools to discuss The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 with tax and legal professionals at their earliest opportunity. These small schools need to understand what impact the new tax code has on their operations.
Here then are five items which I offer as talking points for your discussions.
1. The Impact On Charitable Giving
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – What Nonprofits Need to Know by Sandra Cyr in Philanthropy Journal News offers some insight into how the Tax Act might impact charitable giving. I use the verb "might" advisedly, because it is too soon as of this writing in July 2018 to know what the real impact on charitable giving will be. We will have a better idea about that in the spring of 2019. In the meantime, I suggest that you discuss giving with your board and try to develop a realistic plan. Don't assume that giving will stay the way it has been. Assume that it will change and be prepared for that change.
2. Doubling Of The Standard Deduction
The major change which impacts not-for-profits is
Years ago I ran a small private school with 110 students in grades 9-11. I know how many demands consume a busy administrator's attention and time. I also know firsthand how difficult it is to get the owner of a private school to spend money on even the most critical items. With that in mind, I offer the following talking points for the small private school owner and her board of trustees.
How exposed is your school?
When I asked the question which is the title of this article, I had in mind your exposure on three fronts:
- IT infrastructure
- Public relations
I am not going to scare you off with a lot of tech-speak as far as your IT infrastructure is concerned. But I will highly recommend that you hire an IT expert to review your school's IT infrastructure and make recommendations. By recommending this approach, I am being a practical business person. Let's say your IT backend crashes, and you lose all your student and business data. And you have no resumption of business plan or data backups in place. You will have a tough time making an insurance claim as well as getting your school back up and running.
An impartial IT consultant will confirm that your technology infrastructure has kept up with the times. Sadly, many organizations are still running Windows XP for which support ended in 2014. Those Windows XP computers are easy targets for hackers.
You cannot treat technology like a whiteboard.
A tragedy like Newtown or Parkland could never happen in a private school, right? I certainly hope that it never does, but there are no guarantees, are there? There are so many variables to consider in all of the mass shootings which have occurred since the Columbine attack in 1999 that it would be foolish to say that such events could not happen in a private school. Statistically, the odds of such an event are low. However, when it comes to the safety of our children, it is simply unacceptable to gamble. We as parents and school administrators must take steps to prevent disaster from occurring on our watch.
Equally unforeseen are natural disasters such as tornadoes, flooding, and earthquakes. Granted, certain regions of the country are more prone to these events than others. But you only have to read the news reports to realize that things can and do happen when and where you least expect them to.
So, against this gloomy backdrop let's look at what private schools can do to protect their communities.
As I researched this article, I was impressed by the number of organizations which my search string "emergency response policy and procedure for schools" produced. You will find plenty of relevant and useful reading when you use a search string with a narrow focus.
As Benjamin Franklin wisely noted, "A pound of prevention is worth a pound of cure." While Franklin was referring to fire prevention, his
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.
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