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Patrick F. Bassett, NAIS President The New Normal: A Game-Changing Model for Financially Sustainable Schools.

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Presentation on theme: "Patrick F. Bassett, NAIS President The New Normal: A Game-Changing Model for Financially Sustainable Schools."— Presentation transcript:

1 Patrick F. Bassett, NAIS President The New Normal: A Game-Changing Model for Financially Sustainable Schools

2 Outline  Taking the Pulse Nationally: How Are NAIS Schools Doing?  All Reality Is Local: Reading the Map  Case Studies: Easy Street Prep vs. Copasetic Academy  Navigating Your Path through “The New Normal”  Taking the Pulse Locally: Where are Your Schools Headed?  If You Think Life Is Hard for You….Life Is Hard

3 Tuitions vs. CPI: Luxury-End Pricing

4 Mixed Market / Changing Profile

5 Markers of Success: Giving (Day) 2007-08 Alumni %Parent %Trustee % Alumni Avg Gift Parent Avg Gift Trustee Average Gift Percentile(25) 4%48%93%$135$556$2,007 Percentile(50) 9%64%100%$271$916$3,670 Percentile(75) 17%80%100%$447$1,508$6,288 Percentile(90) 29%91%100%$692$2,388$10,667 2008-09 Alumni %Parent %Trustee % Alumni Avg Gift Parent Avg Gift Trustee Average Gift Percentile(25) 4%49%93%$137$508$1,936 Percentile(50) 8%64%100%$261$860$3,804 Percentile(75) 16%79%100%$427$1,438$6,228 Percentile(90) 27%91%100%$612$2,208$10,486

6 Markers of Success: Giving (Boarding) 2008-09 Alumni %Parent %Trustee % Alumni Avg Gift Parent Avg Gift Trustee Average Gift Percentile(25) 9%32%87%$304$711$3,067 Percentile(50) 17%51%100%$439$1,136$6,334 Percentile(75) 27%69%100%$645$1,771$10,306 Percentile(90) 39%81%100%$988$3,048$18,454 2009-10 Alumni %Parent %Trustee % Alumni Avg Gift Parent Avg Gift Trustee Average Gift Percentile(25) 8%28%87%$268$688$2,912 Percentile(50) 15%48%96%$443$1,166$5,455 Percentile(75) 24%65%100%$605$1,699$11,076 Percentile(90) 36%78%100%$875$2,647$18,814

7 Top 5% Incomes ($200K+): The X Factor

8 Map: Our Current & Future ProspectsMap

9 Case Study #1: Easy Street Prep  Easy Street Prep is a school of 500 in a very affluent community: demand exceeds supply for quality independent schools, and it’s too expensive to build more schools, given the price of real estate.  In the down economy, so far, the school’s admissions seen barely a blip, maybe 5 instead of 7 applications per opening, but lots of margin there.  Its high octane board wants to keep driving hard on tuition increases, capital campaigns, and expensive renovations.  Some diversity of race and ethnicity, but not many Latino/a students in a state whose school-age demographics is moving strongly in that direction.

10 Case Study #1: Easy Street Prep  Strong support for financial aid, but not many middle class kids in the school (or even “the psychological middle class.”)  A growing number of X-Gen board members recently have been asking for “outcomes” analysis of how students and the school performs. And Some entrepreneurial parents wondering if the rather traditional curriculum is as innovative as it could be.  Lots of the kids seems stressed all the time, pressured by their parents and self-imposed expectations for an all-star resume. Some of those secretly are beginning to dread school.  What’s important for the leadership of Easy Street Prep?

11 Case Study #2: Copasetic Academy  Copasetic Academy, located in upscale suburbs of an urban area where the urban independent schools continue to prosper but Copasetic faces a very different market reality.  A PS-Gr. 12 school, Copasetic was a school of 475 just eight years ago, when its lower school admissions started to falter: At first, the school maintained enrollment by increasing financial aid and by accepting students with some academic deficiencies.  Their planning consultant 5 years ago convinced the school and board that his firm’s formula for financial solvency should be adhered to: offer great programming and facilities, and charge what it costs to deliver on that.  Meanwhile, a lower-cost neighboring K-6 independent school was becoming competitive, siphoning off some of Copasetic’s admissions prospects, as was a new magnet school.magnet school

12 Case Study #2: Copasetic Academy  The result of that plan: exorbitant tuition increases, greater attrition and fewer applicants: enrollment goes down to 400 now, admissions numbers were looking weak for the coming year, and current full pay families were applying for financial aid in record numbers.  Market study showed that families with high incomes in the immediate area of the school were declining in numbers, and while there were plenty of high income families within an hour’s drive, the school had not been successful in attracting them to Copasetic Academy.  While the school had successfully been using a “net tuition revenue” approach to filling empty seats, some on the board felt that one way to balance the budget was to cut back on financial aid.  What options should the school be considering as it plans for the coming year and the future?

13 Has Your School Hit Its Price-Break Point?  Admissions Funnel Trends?  Financial Aid Application Trends?  Demographics Projections for your Area for Full- Pay Families with School-Age Children?  Growth of high quality, no-cost or low-cost school options in your area (public magnets and charters, parochial schools, other lower-cost private schools, home-school networks)?  Top 5% Incomes ($200K+) vs. CPI Trends? In the context of increased taxes and health care costs for this group (i.e., less discretionary income)?

14 A Game Changing Model for Financially Sustainable Schools

15 The Value Proposition Equation for Parents…and Donors Perceived Outcomes Perceived Price = Value PFB Note: For prospective parents, as perceived price goes up, value goes down unless perceived outcomes increase proportionately. For advancement, substitute “giving expectation” for “price” as the “value-proposition” for donors.

16 Old Normal: Budgeting for Excellence  “Old Normal” Assumptions:  our spending spree has no limits to it. We are America: We spend too much; we assume too much debt; we save too little.  high tuition increases are necessary to expand program and staff while at the same time sustaining both small classes and competitive faculty salaries.  top 5% income families will always be able and willing to pay whatever we ask.  all schools in a local market compete on product, not price.

17 Old Normal: Budgeting for Excellence  “Old Normal” Assumptions (cont.):  financial aid the fixed variable; enrollment the flexible variable.  primary purpose of a board is to maximize excellence for current students (in many cases, their own children).  Traditional Budgeting Process  starts with the needs: “nice to have” column migrates to the “must have” column.  ends with increasing tuition, usually well beyond inflation.

18 New Normal: Budgeting for Sustainability  New Normal Assumptions:  continued commitment to competitive salaries and “intimate environments” where each child is known.  excessive tuition increases have undermined demand (or will).  mantra: increase “productivity” without a decrease in quality (i.e., increase enrollment or decrease staff)

19 New Normal: Budgeting for Sustainability  New Normal Assumptions (cont.):  schools compete on prestige (“brand”), program (“uniqueness”), or price (“best value”)  enrollment the fixed variable; financial aid the flexible variable.  primary function of the board, to secure the future of the school (creating their children’s children’s school).  starting and ending points of budging process are reversed.

20 New Normal: Game-changing Vision  The New Discipline: Budgeting for Financial Sustainability (even if you are Easy Street Prep)  committing to increasing enrollment without increasing staff.  adopting a “sunset provision” of retiring an old program when introducing a new one so that no net staffing increases are required (and deciding which is which by value-proposition surveying (e.g., The NAIS Survey ).value-proposition surveying

21 New Normal: Game-changing Vision  The New Discipline: Budgeting for Financial Sustainability (cont.)  rightsizing: re-thinking class size or workload or the number of teacher specialists and assistants or school size (e.g., Choate: downsize to become better & sustainable)  devoting 1/3 rd of each fund-raising dollar raised (annual giving, special events, and capital giving) to endowment, ultimately the insurance policy of the school that will guarantee its future: “intergenerational equity.”

22 New Normal: Game-changing Vision  Outcome of New Model:  financially sustainable schools, “built to last.”  stable or improved value-proposition.

23 The Value Proposition Equation Perceived Outcomes Perceived Price = Value PFB Note: Option 1: As perceived price goes down (projection of tuition increases as modest), value goes up, even if perceived outcomes don’t change. Option 2: Up outcomes as up price (“more more,” including new technology & accountability). What’s easier/better to manage: price or outcomes? What about, “Both”?

24 Projecting from our admissions funnel results so far this year compared to last, our enrollment should be the same or greater than this year. 1. Definitely 2. Probably 3. Maybe 4. Unlikely

25 Our best marketing strategy for the future will be to compete on… 1. Prestige (“brand”) 2. Program (“uniqueness”) 3. Price (“best value”)

26 Next year’s tuition compared to this year’s is… 1. Lower 2. Frozen at this year’s rate 3. Increased by CPI 4. Increased by CPI+1 5. Increased by CPI +2 or more

27 In the future we’ll consider a more aggressive net tuition discounting strategy to ensure full enrollment 1. Yes 2. No

28 Our school is considering “right-sizing” by increasing enrollment without adding staff or by stabilizing enrollment and reducing staff or by merging. 1. Strongly Agree 2. Agree 3. Disagree 4. Strongly Disagree

29 If my school were “Easy Street Prep,” I’d… 1. Change nothing 2. Leverage perceived strengths 3. Take “school of the future” risks

30 Patrick F. Bassett, President NAIS ( The End… …Is the Beginning

31 Are you prepared to face increasing competition for a decreasing number of students? “St. Louis Magnet Schools offer an EXCITING, TUITION FREE alternative for students of all ages and abilities.” 2009/2010 is the inaugural year for the St. Louis Virtual School. 2009/2010 is the inaugural year for the St. Louis Virtual School.


33 Raleigh, NC

34 SF-Metro, CA

35 LA-Metro, CA Return

36 NAIS’s Value Proposition Surveys: Value/Performance Matrix High Performance High Value Low Performance Low Value High Performance Low Performance Low Value Leadership’s Responsibility: To assess all operations on the matrix, then reallocate resources

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