There is general acknowledgement across our industry that we have to continue to hire more people in our schools. We can look back almost twenty years to 2000-2001, when schools had 5.5 students for every one full time equivalent employee. Today, it’s 4.5 to one. Back in 2000-2001, there were 9 students to every one FTE teacher. Today, it’s 8 to one. The assumption has been that our schools have added more employees in administrative positions, not teaching positions in the last twenty years. That was true in the 1990s, but it hasn’t been the casein recent years. We’ve added teachers, and often we’ve added teachers to teach smaller numbers of students.
As our partnerships with schools deepened, we learned that online education provided an innovative opportunity for schools to add programs: per student rather than per faculty. This allowed schools to increase opportunities in more cost-effective ways and without making huge up-front investments in either spaces or people. also provided an opportunity to shift low-enrollment courses online to reduce costs without sacrificing the breadth and depth of their offerings.
Consider this program expansion scenario from one of our schools. This girls’ school in a tight market was looking to increase STEM opportunities for students, and considered two paths: traditional staffing (Option #1) or an online partnerships (Option #2). They chose Option #2 to allow for greater depth to their program at a lower annual cost and no capital expenditures.
Ten years ago, there was a lot of thought in the independent school world that online learning could be used to create new revenue. Those predictions have not come true. More importantly, however, independent schools can use online education to manage expenses, by adding value and increasing opportunities without having to add staff.
For a deeper dive, explore some past blog posts or check out the professional development courses offered in partnership with the National Business Officers Association:
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Brad Rathgeber (he/him/his)