The Ignite-style sessions at UC20, created with guidance from Blackbaud K–12’s Advisory Board, delivered fast-paced presentations designed to inspire and spark discussion. Financial sustainability was a concern for schools before COVID-19, so it’s certainly not a problem that can be solved in five-minute sessions. That said, our panel of school leaders and industry experts delivered actionable advice in this session to help schools reconsider their options and lay the groundwork for sustainability.
Michael Hoyle, senior vice president administration finance and strategic planning at Boston College High School, began the session by focusing on financial modeling and transparency. Hoyle outlined a three-step process to transparency by holding a community-wide meeting to review the current budget and financial health of the school, involving the school community in the budgeting process, and creating a budget advisory committee with rotating members.
“It’s important to do this because you end up developing champions in the community,” Hoyle said. “When they understand what makes up the budget, you build a lot of trust and a lot of community in the school.”
Ryan Kinney, associate director of finance at St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., dug deeper into the best practices of financial modeling. “Financial modeling really gives you the ability to have an understanding and quantify various scenarios,” he said after outlining an effective approach to financial modeling for private schools. You can download a template for Kinney’s financial model here.
Peter Baron, chief member relations officer at The Enrollment Management Association, addressed the topic by encouraging schools to reimagine enrollment. “There’s no question that we live in unsettling times—a global pandemic, financial uncertainty, clear racial injustice,” Baron said. “And what it does is that it begs the question around how do we respond to ensure financial sustainability as we move into our new academic year?”
Baron started with advice on building nimble practices and systems, spoke to finding new ways to get to know prospective families, and ended by rethinking pricing and reconsidering the traditional financial aid and tuition model.
“These are three areas that we encourage schools to explore. Now, we’re not going to be able to give you all of the answers in five minutes, but hopefully, we’ve given you some questions and a framework to work from.”
You may also be interested in our other Ignite session recaps:
- How to Market Your School and Sustain Enrollment in the Wake of COVID-19?
- How to Cultivate the Parent Experience?
- How has Distance Learning Changed the Ed-Tech Landscape?
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