“I didn't realize how reliant schools are on tuition for revenue.”
“I didn't realize how much of a school’s costs are in admin/faculty/staff salaries.”
These are common responses we hear in Budget Meets Mission, a course for non-business administrators that I co-teach with Jeff Shields, the President and CEO of NBOA.
Jeff and I love teaching this class together because we get to work with colleagues from around the country in developing greater financial acumen and understanding what levers they have to re-shape the business model of their schools, according to their own unique missions.
It is no secret that independent schools are facing a different financial reality than they did a generation ago. Money seems to be tighter than it used to be, while at the same time, most schools are increasing their tuitions above the rate of inflation, with some day school tuitions surpassing $50,000 in major metropolitan markets. Many school leaders realize their business models need to change.
Unfortunately, much of the strategic conversations around this topic happen in silos because often the academic “side of the house” does not have an understanding in the basics of independent school finances; and the non-academic “side of the house” does not have a good sense of teaching and learning needs.
Harnessing critical, creative ideas from all voices in the school are essential in aligning the school’s future with the demands of today’s families. Academic leaders can’t excuse themselves from conversations about the business and operations of independent schools; and business officers can’t excuse themselves from conversations about teaching and learning. These conversations must be inextricably intertwined.
At One Schoolhouse, we want to provide models and ideas to the challenges independent schools face. That’s why we build our academic program for students around the needs of schools. That’s why we partner with the National Business Officers Association (NBOA) to bring top-notch, in-depth programming to independent school leaders. That’s why we make sure that our tuition and fees only rise at the rate of inflation. And, that’s why we actively work with schools to help them come up with custom solutions for their campus. We want to partner with you to strengthen your school’s financial sustainability.
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Brad Rathgeber (he/him/his)