Recession and Renewal
by John Vegt, SCSBC Director of Finance ◊
The recession has brought significant pressures to a number of our parents and schools. Parents did not send their children to the local Christian school for financial reasons; principals had to deal with staff cut backs; treasurers and business managers had to visit their bankers to discuss an increase in the school’s line of credit and teachers had to juggle programs, work hours and classes.
This is not the first time our schools have faced times of financial pressure.
How do we respond to this as a Christian school community? In the past it became a shared burden and it will need to be so again now.
Each part of the school community body needs to help in solving these financial pressures. It has always been and continues to be a test of our commitment to Christian education.
What do these shared burdens look like: more tuition assistance, staff time reduction through job sharing, early retirement, pay freezes and even layoffs, increased donations by those who are able, words of encouragement, prayer, lots of communication about financial status of schools, sharing of expertise between schools in areas of business management, rearrangement of debt and revision of current year budget to understand effect on school operations.
Over 70% of the school’s budget is allocated to salaries and benefits for professional and other staff. It is imperative that your school’s student to staff ratio is examined for any significant change in enrollment. The average ratio for all K-12 SCSBC schools is 13 to 1.
God calls us not to lose sight of doing His work especially when we are being tested financially. Each of our school communities can attest to the many times God has richly rewarded them by responding in faith and with hard work on facing a financial challenge.
Some things to consider over the next short while:
- Is your student to staff ratio appropriate for your school?
- Have schools revised or challenged their budgets to see where cost savings may be available?
- Are we charging enough for bussing and other services?
- How does your school assess funding costs associated with educational support services?
- Is the whole school community of parents, supporters and staff participating financially?
- If eligible, are we helping parents with tuition assistance?
- Is student recruitment a priority?
- Is there an opportunity to consider school additions since construction and borrowing costs are low?
- Have we considered using ERAC for volume discount purchasing?
- Have we prayerfully asked for wisdom and discernment that God will provide?